If you and your ex-spouse are co-parenting one or more kids who hope to attend college soon, you may be wondering exactly how you're going to pay these expenses -- and whether your ex-spouse is obligated to help. While many states allow trial judges to order one (or both) parents to shoulder the cost of a child's college or even post-graduate expenses, the procedure (and amount each parent must pay) can vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In Indiana, a recent decision may have eliminated any parental obligation to pay for certain types of schooling. Read on to learn more about a recent Indiana Supreme Court case addressing the payment of post-secondary expenses and how this decision may impact your own college funding choices.
Are Indiana parents required to pay their child's college tuition?
In Indiana, as in many other states, a divorce court can require the parties to split the cost of a child's college tuition. Judges are given fairly broad discretion in determining an appropriate amount for each parent to pay toward college tuition and expenses and may require the child to take out student loans or even work to pay a portion of the tuition bill themselves rather than ask both parents to shoulder that burden.
There exists no similar requirement that parents who are still married to each other cover their child's or children's tuition bills -- however, divorcing with minor children at home puts these children (and their future) within the court's jurisdiction.
What did the recent Indiana Supreme Court case change about this process?
In Allen v. Allen, the Indiana Supreme Court recently held that a trial court judge did not have the right to require parents to pay an adult child's graduate school tuition after he had graduated from college. Prior to this decision, some trial courts had entered orders requiring parents to pay all college expenses without specifying undergraduate or post-graduate, leading to some confusion among practitioners and divorcing parents who were afraid of being placed on the hook for a six-figure medical or dental school bill without consent.
If you're considering divorce in the Hoosier state, you'll now be able to proceed without concern that you could be required to shoulder the cost of your child's graduate school education. However, you could still be ordered to pay undergraduate expenses, so it's important to work with your child to come up with a realistic college budget that won't put too much strain on you or your ex-spouse.
For more information about how a divorce may affect your family now and in the future, contact a company like Knollmeyer Law Office.