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Time to Request College Expenses - A Revised Standard

Time to Request College Expenses: A Revised Standard

Previous blog posts have explored several subparts and nuances of the amended statute on emancipation for purposes of child support1, passed in July, 2012. However, a recent amendment and additional terms have been added to the statute, retroactive to July 1, 2012, which clarify when college expenses can be petitioned for.

Recently, the Indiana Court of Appeals addressed a case involving a dismissal of a father’s petition for postsecondary educational expenses for the daughter of the parties2. In this case, the parties had two (2) daughters. The parties divorced in 2001, and no provision was included regarding college expenses. The parties entered into subsequent agreements following the divorce regarding custody and child support, but none included a provision for college expenses.

Shortly after the new emancipation law went into effect, Mother filed to emancipate the younger daughter3, and terminate child support. A little under a month later, Father filed a motion for college expenses and for past due uninsured medical expenses. The parties entered into an agreement shortly thereafter, in which they agreed the younger daughter was emancipated and Mother’s child support obligation was terminated. The agreement did not contain a provision for college expenses.

Approximately three (3) months later, Mother filed to dismiss Father’s motion for college expenses as untimely because he filed it after daughter was emancipated. Pursuant to their agreement, the daughter was emancipated before the request for college expenses. The trial court dismissed Father’s motion, and Father appealed.

The Court of Appeals laid out the time frame of the amendments to Ind. Code §31-16-6-6. In 2013, it was noted that the Indiana Legislature had amended the statute, with an emergency retroactive effective date of July 1, 2012, to clarify the issue of college expenses.

The retroactive amendments note that while the duty to support a child ceases when the child becomes nineteen (19), this does not include support for educational needs. Additionally, the amendments state that if there is an order including a duty to support a child issued before July 1, 2012, the parent, guardian, or child may file a petition for educational needs until the child becomes twenty-one (21) years of age.

These amendments clarify and denote the time frame to file for college expenses. The Court of Appeals noted in the above matter that this case came to the Court in limbo-the trial court had ruled under the old law, and the law had been amended prior to the Court of Appeals decision. With the Indiana Legislature’s clarification of the law, it has allowed further understanding of when to file for college expenses.

We hope that this blog post has been helpful in introducing the amendments to the emancipation statute as it relates to college expenses. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.

  1. See Ind. Code §31-16-6-6
  2. See Littke v. Littke
  3. The older daughter was over 21 years of age

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