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Father must still pay part of son’s college expenses, COA holds

July 27, 2016

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed that a teenager has not repudiated his relationship with this estranged father and affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the boy, his mother, and his father must each pay a third of his college expenses.

Kevin Koontz and Erin Koontz, now Scott, divorced in 2009 when their son was 12 years old. Koontz was awarded parenting time, and during one weekend visit, was alleged by his son to have hit the boy in the face during an altercation. Scott sought to alter visitation, but the judge’s entry on the order was not included in the appellate record. No other action was taken on the emergency order and it was dismissed sua sponte several months later.

After that disagreement Koontz failed to see his son and didn’t attempt to enforce his parenting time. He never directly or indirectly contacted the boy until he turned 18 and Scott sent Koontz a letter about how to split college expenses. Koontz left several voicemails for his son, but he never responded, testifying that he felt uncomfortable responding after all the years of silence between the two.

The son, at the hearing on the expenses, testified that he did want a relationship with his father and considered himself a Scott-Koontz, even though he used the last name “Scott” on social media accounts. The trial court noted the strained relationship between the two, but there is no evidence the teen repudiated his relationship with his father. The court ordered the parents and the boy each responsible for one-third of his college expenses.

“We observe that Father’s meager attempts to reach out to his son occurred only after Mother filed her petition for contribution towards Son’s college expenses. Beginning in late-September 2015, less than two months before the hearing, Father left a few very short voicemail messages for Son that went unreturned. These calls, made in the eleventh hour, appear chiefly motived by the request for college expenses, not by a true desire to restore a relationship with Son, and Father’s claims of rejection ring hollow,” Judge Robert Altice wrote in Kevin R. Koontz v. Erin L. (Koontz) Scott, 32A04-1601-DR-40.


 

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