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Pending petition for child support becomes applicable after Legislature amends statute

August 13, 2013

A trial court will have to reconsider its ruling in a child support dispute in light of a state law that was changed while an appeal of the case was pending.

Richard Littke had filed a petition to obligate his ex-wife, Laurie Littke, to help cover their daughter’s college expenses in 2012. The trial court granted Laurie Littke’s motion to dismiss because the couple had already agreed their daughter was emancipated pursuant to Indiana Code 31-16-6-6 effective July 1, 2012.

While the father’s appeal was pending before the Indiana Court of Appeals, however, the Legislature enacted an amendment that made his petition timely.

During the 2012 and 2013 sessions, the Indiana General Assembly amended I.C. 31-16-6-6 which governs the termination of child support and emancipation of a child. In 2012, the Legislature changed the presumptive age for termination of child support from 21 to 19. The next year, the governing body added subjections addressing the filing of a petition for education needs.

Consequently, the Court of Appeals found under the applicable version of I.C. 31-16-6-6 the father’s petition was not untimely. In Richard Littke v. Laurie Littke, 64A03-1211-DR-509, the COA reversed the order dismissing the father’s petition for postsecondary educational expenses as untimely and remanded to the trial court to make a determination on the merits of the father’s petition.

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