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How to Handle Your Child’s IEP Meeting After Your Divorce

If you have a child with a disability and you are going through a divorce, you might be wondering if both parents can attend a child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting once your divorced has been finalized. The content of what is discussed in these meetings is of the upmost importance and will ultimately shape your child’s education and future.

The agreement you reach in your divorce will decide whether or not both parents are allowed to attend a child’s IEP meeting. This means that you will want to think about your custody circumstances beforehand and should include special provisions for your child’s education needs in your final divorce agreement. Your divorce decree should clearly state the relationship and obligations that each parent has for the child with special needs. Unless the divorce decree states otherwise, both parents will retain their decision making rights regarding special education accommodations.

Who Has Legal Custody of the Child?

Whichever parent has legal custody rights for the child has the authority make decisions about their special education needs. If one parent has legal custody and the other does not, the custodial parent can prevent the non-custodial parent form attending IEP meetings and providing their input. However, if you have physical custody but not legal custody of your child, your spouse can potentially keep you from being included in IEP meetings.

What About Joint Legal Custody?

Some co-parenting agreements allow both parents to retain joint legal custody of a child. Although this usually means that both parents have the right to attend and input their opinion about a child’s IEP plan, the final divorce decree can be written in such a way that one parent can be excluded from attending these meetings.

When both parents share legal custody of a child but disagree on the course of their education, alternative approaches might be needed to resolve the dispute. Cooperative approaches like mediation and dispute resolution can help parents come to a compromise on their child’s education plan. If cooperative approaches fail to resolve the dispute, changes will need to be made to the divorce agreement.

Do you and your ex-spouse disagree about your child’s Individualized Education Program? Contact our Palm Harbor team of family law attorneys to discuss how we can help you today.