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RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 13661
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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Am I obligated to help pay for my sons college I am divorced

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Am I obligated to help pay for my sons college? I am divorced and the divorce decree does not state that I am. I am the non custodial parent but have joint custody. I DO NOT pay child support but receive it because my ex make so much more than I do. I work full time but having to pay a certain amount of my son's college would really hurt. I barely make ends meet now. I have no problem helping out but can't state a percentage or amount that I could pay.

Thank you for contacting Just Answer. I am a licensed attorney, and will be happy to try and assist you further, if you could provide me with some more information first. Also, you should know that due to site limitations, I can't always see all of the information you may have typed, so if I ask a redundant question, I apologize in advance. Can you please tell me:


1) What state is this in? Generally, support terminates by the time a child is in college unless the decree provides otherwise, but I want to review applicable law and try to let you know for certain.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I am located in Indiana. My son starts his senior year of high school this fall and turns 18 in September.
I've submitted my answer 3 times, but each time it isn't posting to you -might be a site error. I will try later.
Alright, I'm going to try again, and see if this works.

Under the Indiana Code, unless an order exists that states you must contribute, then there is no obligation to do so. In considering whether to grant such an order, the court looks to many factors, including the financial abilities of both parents to contribute, and the possibility of the child obtaining other souces of financial aid for schooling (such as scholarships). Specifically, the code reads:

IC 31-16-6-2
Expenses for child's education and health care; Title IV-D fees
Sec. 2. (a) The child support order or an educational support order may also include, where appropriate:
(1) amounts for the child's education in elementary and secondary schools and at postsecondary educational institutions, taking into account:
(A) the child's aptitude and ability;
(B) the child's reasonable ability to contribute to educational expenses through:
(i) work;
(ii) obtaining loans; and
(iii) obtaining other sources of financial aid reasonably available to the child and each parent; and
(C) the ability of each parent to meet these expenses;
(2) special medical, hospital, or dental expenses necessary to serve the best interests of the child; and
(3) fees mandated under Title IV-D of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 651 through 669).
(b) If the court orders support for a child's educational expenses at a postsecondary educational institution under subsection (a), the court shall reduce other child support for that child that:
(1) is duplicated by the educational support order; and
(2) would otherwise be paid to the custodial parent.

This doesn't mean your husband can't try to go back to court to try and get the order modified, just that he will have to show you are in a position to contribute financially, which you make appear may not be the case at this point and time.

The law does provide that a child attending college in Indiana will receive support until the age of 21 in most cases. The code reads:

IC 31-16-6-6
Termination or modification of child support; emancipation of child
Sec. 6. (a) The duty to support a child under this chapter ceases when the child becomes twenty-one (21) years of age unless any of the following conditions occurs:
(1) The child is emancipated before becoming twenty-one (21) years of age. In this case the child support, except for the educational needs outlined in section 2(a)(1) of this chapter, terminates at the time of emancipation, although an order for educational needs may continue in effect until further order of the court.
(2) The child is incapacitated. In this case the child support continues during the incapacity or until further order of the court.
(3) The child:
(A) is at least eighteen (18) years of age;
(B) has not attended a secondary school or postsecondary educational institution for the prior four (4) months and is not enrolled in a secondary school or postsecondary educational institution; and
(C) is or is capable of supporting himself or herself through employment.
In this case the child support terminates upon the court's finding that the conditions prescribed in this subdivision exist. However, if the court finds that the conditions set forth in clauses (A) through (C) are met but that the child is only partially supporting or is capable of only partially supporting himself or herself, the court may order that support be modified instead of terminated.
(b) For purposes of determining if a child is emancipated under subsection (a)(1), if the court finds that the child:
(1) has joined the United States armed services;
(2) has married; or
(3) is not under the care or control of:
(A) either parent; or
(B) an individual or agency approved by the court;
the court shall find the child emancipated and terminate the child support

Good luck to you. If you have any additional questions, please press the reply button, and I will be happy to assist you further.

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