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In test of 2012 emancipation law, COA affirms denial of college expenses

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A statutory change in the age of emancipation for child support, except for educational support, does not preclude courts from modifying educational support obligations when parents demonstrate changes in their financial circumstances, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

An appellate panel affirmed a Hamilton Superior ruling denying a mother’s petition for allocation of college expenses in  Lisa Svenstrup v. Thomas Svenstrup, 29A02-1206-DR-452.

Thomas Svenstrup was granted a modification in weekly child support obligations after the couple’s son began attending Indiana University in 2011. Lisa Sventstrup later filed a petition for allocation of college expenses that the court denied.

While the son’s grants, college aid and student loans more than covered the cost of education, the mother’s brief claimed that there is no caselaw allowing her to modify a denial of post-secondary education expenses and allowing her to modify a denial after the child would be emancipated, leaving her no recourse if a change in circumstances occurred.

“In this regard we note that Ind. Code § 31-16-6-6(a) was amended effective July 1, 2012” to set the emancipation at 19 except for educational support.

“Under these circumstances, where Mother petitioned for an educational support order PRIOR to (the son’s) emancipation at age nineteen but which petition was denied by the trial court’s order, we hold that the order is subject to modification,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the court.

“We affirm the trial court’s order denying Mother’s petition for allocation of college expenses, which order may be modified upon the requisite showing of changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms of the existing order unreasonable.”


 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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