A controversial topic across the United States with divorced families or children born out of wedlock is: “Who pays for post-secondary education?” Post-secondary education is generally defined as education beyond high school.
A recent national case in New Jersey brought this matter to the forefront. Here Caitlyn Ricci sued her parents for tuition at Temple University and lost that battle.1 This blog covers post-secondary education as a policy and as it applies in Indiana.
In many states, the duty to pay any support for a child, including post-secondary education, ends at age 18 or when the child completes his or her senior year of high school, in case the child happens to be in high school when he or she turns 18. The argument against this is rooted, in part, in the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Basically, a court may order divorced parents to pay for post-secondary education but not so order married parents to do so.
In Indiana, a trial court may order parents to pay for post-secondary education. There are technical statutory requirements. In addition, the trial courts widely vary in how they make awards and it is discretionary with the judge. Thus, careful trial preparation must be made for making the best case for your position on how much to contribute, if at all (such as with a full scholarship).
Recently, the Indiana Supreme Court issued a key ruling in its Allen2 case that limited a parent’s liability for post-secondary education, concluding that it does not include graduate or professional school expenses. Thus, a four-year degree or technical certificate is what is included at present in Indiana trial court’s authority to order a parent to pay post-secondary education expenses. However, the Indiana Court of Appeals is considering a consolidated appeal that this is unconstitutional because it violates equal protection.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. handle divorce, paternity, and post-decree litigation, including trials over post-secondary expenses, in courts throughout Indiana. This blog post is written as general informational information and it not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.
- CBS News February 11, 2017.
- Allen v. Allen, 54 N.E.3d 344 (Ind.2016).