Post-Secondary Education for 2!

Family Law Case Review
Case: Alexander David Toradze v. Susan Blake Toradze
by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll

HELD:  Trial court had proper jurisdiction to enter a post-secondary educational expense order for two children who were over 19, but under 21, pursuant to the recent amendments to Ind. Code 31-16-6-6.

[The legal issues presented by this case are substantially similar those of last week’s Littke case, but one take away here is that a “motion to dismiss based upon lack of jurisdiction” may not be the best vehicle for contesting an untimely petition for post-secondary educational expenses.]

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
Mother and Father divorced, with two children, in 2002. The Decree did not include a post-secondary educational expense order. In October 2012, when one child was 20 and the other 19, Mother filed a petition to apportion post-secondary educational expenses between the parties. Father promptly filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Following a hearing, the trial court denied Father’s motion.

The Court of Appeals noted the first amendment to Ind. Code 31-16-6-6, effective July 1, 2012, which lowered the emancipation age — by which a post-secondary educational expense order must be requested — from 21 to 19. However, in the spring of 2013, the statute was retroactively amended a second time to specifically provide that any case that was subject to a support order that existed before July 1, 2012, was given a “grandfather” clause that permitted the petition for educational orders until the child’s 21st birthday. Therefore, because the children were subject to a support order that pre-dated July 1, 2012, and because the children had not yet reached age 21, the trial court had jurisdiction to entertain Mother’s petition.

Judge Brown wrote a separate opinion concurring in result to express her opinion that there was never a jurisdictional issue in the first place, since the trial court always had the subject matter jurisdiction to hear the type of petition Mother filed, and it had personal jurisdiction over the parties because appropriate process was effected. Judge Brown took issue with the majority’s statement that the trial court “acquired” subject jurisdiction over the case based upon this year’s retroactive amendment to Ind. Code 31-16-6-6.

The trial court’s denial of Father’s motion to dismiss was affirmed.

To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: Alexander David Toradze v. Susan Blake Toradze

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While significant efforts are made to ensure an accurate summary and reproduction of each opinion, readers are advised to verify all content and analysis with a traditional case law reporter before relying on the content and analysis offered here.
The Matrimonial Law Group of Bingham Greenebaum Doll, LLP is one of the largest full-service matrimonial and family law practices in the State of Indiana. We represent clients in a wide spectrum of family law matters, including premarital agreements, cohabitation, separation, divorce (especially involving high net worth individuals and/or complex asset issues), custody, parenting arrangements, adoption, and domestic partnerships. Bingham Greenebaum Doll, a multidisciplinary law firm serving regional, national, and international clients, is the fourth-largest law firm in Indiana. The firm’s main practices include corporate, property, litigation, labor, government law, and personal services law. Visit the firm’s website at www.bgdlegal.com.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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