Starting in July 1st of this year, the age children are emancipated for the purpose of child support will change from 21 to 19. With the enactment of this new law, there will be a transition time where attorneys advocate it meanings, and the trial court and ultimately Indiana’s appellate courts agree or disagree to give it legal meaning. The scope and limits of this new statute are undetermined at this time.
One of the main topics addressed in the new statute is education. There is a specific exception for educational expenses to be allowed to continue–after age 19-- by order of the court. However, the definition of educational expenses can be unclear, and may include more than simply tuition. At least, that is the argument attorneys will make for the parent who seeks some type of financial support to facilitate education.
This blog will explore potential arguments regarding what might be included in education expenses, as it pertains to the new emancipation law. As this law is not yet in effect and, as noted, it is unknown how it will be interpreted, this blog simply creates potential ideas and arguments regarding “educational expenses”, and the potential for costs included under that umbrella term.
One potential expense that may be included as an educational expense for children over 19 in school is support for a college student living at the home of one parent or the other. The child is still enrolled and attending school, and therefore, educational expenses are appropriate. The argument is similar for living on-campus or near, but off-campus, those expenses of housing the child may fall under the educational expenses.
Often, educational expenses include not only tuition, but room and board, fees, books and supplies, and other incidentals covered by the monthly bill from the educational institution to the student and his or her family.
A student who chooses to live at home while attending school often saves money, as dorm fees or off-campus apartments are often quite expensive. However, if the child is living at home and there is no bill from the university for housing, it may seem unfair that the parent housing the child is not somehow compensated by the other for housing the child.
Although it seems very similar to child support, the non-custodial parent paying the parent housing the college student may be an educational expense, paid to the parent instead of the university or off-campus apartment complex.
Another grey issue involving educational expenses are school breaks. Often college students have extended breaks from college, and many spend that time at home. For instance, Christmas break is often 3-4 weeks, along with Spring break, Thanksgiving break, Fall break, and Summer vacation. All of these together can add up to several months.
Even if a college student lives on-campus or in an apartment off-campus, they may be at one parent’s home for many months out of the year. Could this time for school breaks spent at home entitle a parent to support as an educational expense? Again, this is unclear, but it is something to think about as your child embarks on his or her college education, particularly since child support in the strictest sense will be no more.
If this blog has you thinking about what is fair or unfair or included or not included in your situation, as it relates to the new emancipation law, then it will help you help your lawyer frame the best argument for or against inclusion of certain costs under the umbrella term of “educational expenses.” Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices law throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by Bryan Ciyou, Esq. and Jessica Keyes.