Indiana Courts may make orders directing parents to contribute to post-secondary education expenses for a child when the parents are divorced or paternity has been established. In some cases, however children refuse to have a relationship with their parent after they turn eighteen and are no longer subject to a parenting time order by the Court. When this happens, a parent may be left paying for their child’s college education without having a relationship with that child.
To remedy this issue, Indiana courts recognize repudiation of a parent as a complete defense to an order for payment of a child’s post-secondary education expenses. Repudiation occurs when a child refuses to continue a relationship with their parent. When a parent can prove to the Court that a child has repudiated that parent, that parent will be relieved of any obligation to pay for that child’s post-secondary education expenses. The Court has reasoned that a parent who has stood with open arms to reestablish a relationship with their child should be relieved of the responsibility of contributing to the child’s college education when all the child wants is for the parent to stand with an outstretched, open wallet.
Whether repudiation has occurred depends on the factor of each situation. The Court will weigh the evidence regarding the relationship between the parent and child to determine whether the child has completely refused to participate in a relationship with the parent. The Court considers what efforts the parent has taken to maintain a relationship with the child in light of the child’s refusal. If the Court finds that the child has not completely refused to participate in a relationship with the parent, the parent will remain obligated to pay the post-secondary education expenses pursuant to the Court’s order.
If you have questions about this issue, contact the attorneys at Slotegraaf Niehoff, P.C. located in Bloomington Indiana.