What School District Does My Child Attend If We Are Divorced? Indiana Custody and Divorce Law
Parents sometimes dispute primary physical custody because they think that doing so will determine which school their child will go to, but I'm here to tell you that school placement is a red herring in a physical custody dispute. Why?
First, educational decisions are made by the child's legal custodian(s), not physical custodian(s). If parents share legal custody they must agree on the child's school placement. If a parent has sole legal custody, they alone get to decide which school the child will attend. For more about this distinction go here.
Secondly, if parents live in different districts Indiana law allows divorced or separated parents to choose between those districts, by filing an election. The law at issue states
the parent granted physical custody by a court may, not later than fourteen (14) days before the first student day of the school year, elect for the student to have legal settlement in the school corporation whose attendance area contains the residence of the student's mother or the school corporation whose attendance area contains the residence of the student's father. See I.C. 20-26-11. The same laws says where parents share 50/50 physical custody they must agree with the school district placement of the child.
While the primary physical custodian, or the joint physical custodians must make the election, school placement is a legal custody decision. All legal custodians (both parents if they share legal custody) must agree on the school placement.
So what school district will a child attend if the parents live in separate districts? The school district the legal custodian or legal custodians select.
If you would like to discuss this topic further, please contact me.