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Mother may petition for college expenses for emancipated children

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Two amendments made by the Indiana General Assembly to the termination of child support and emancipation statute allow for a mother’s college support petition for two emancipated children to stand.

Alexander Toradze and Susan Toradze were divorced in May 2002. The divorce decree included an order for child support for the two minor children but did not contain any language regarding payments toward any college education expenses. In October 2012, the children’s mother filed a petition to modify child support to help cover college costs.

The children’s father filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction to decide Susan Toradze’s request based on Indiana Code 31.16-6-6.

In Alexander David Toradze v. Susan Blake Toradze, 71A05-1212-DR-623, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirms the trial court’s denial of Alexander Toradze’s motion to dismiss. The COA concluded the lower court acquired jurisdiction because of amendments regarding child support made to the state statute. The judges pointed to the Legislature’s two amendments to the state statute regarding the termination of children support and emancipation.

The Indiana General Assembly enacted an amendment, effective July 1, 2012, which lowered the age for stopping child support to 19. A year later, the Legislature approved another amendment, retroactively effective July 1, 2012, which enabled a parent, guardian or child to petition for education needs when a child support order was issued before July 1, 2012.

Since the children were both emancipated on July 1, 2012, – the child support order had been issued in 2002 – the Court of Appeals found Susan Toradze can file a petition to modify.

“When Mother filed her petition for educational expenses, both children had not yet reached twenty-one years of age, Judge Patricia Riley wrote. “Because the trial court had established a duty to support the children in a court order issued prior to July 1, 2012 and the children were younger than twenty-one years of age, Mother was entitled to file her petition for post-educational expenses based on I.C. 31-16-6-6(a) & (c).”

Judge Elaine Brown wrote a separate opinion, concurring in result but disagreeing with the “majority’s conclusion that the trial court acquired subject matter jurisdiction to decide Mother’s request….”

Brown concluded the trial court had personal and subject matter jurisdiction and that Ind. Code 31-16-6-6 provided statutory basis for providing Mother the requested relief.



 

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