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Indiana Courts Do Not Have Authority to Order Graduate School Expenses To Be Paid for Adult Children

The recent Indiana Supreme Court case of Allen vs. Allen, entered on June 1, 2016, indicates parents cannot be court ordered to pay for graduate or professional school expenses for their adult children. Even parents who are arguably financially well-off enough to afford graduate school for their children cannot be ordered to do so under Indiana Code § 31-16-6-2.

Parents are still free to agree to pay for some portion of their children’s graduate or professional school expenses in their settlement agreements. The trial courts then have the authority to enforce those agreements between parties. The Allen case distinguishes the enforcement of a prior agreement between parties from a court order requiring payment of graduate school expenses by parents who have not agreed to pay.

This ruling clarifies the Indiana statute allowing trial courts to order divorced parents to pay for their children’s undergraduate or trade school, post-Secondary educational expenses. The power of trial courts to order parents to pay a share of undergraduate or trade school costs remains in place, under Indiana Code 31-16-6-2.