Family Law Case Review:
Case: : Kevin R. Koontz v. Erin L. (Koontz) Scott
by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll
HELD: Trial court properly concluded Son had not repudiated his relationship with Father, for purposes of a college expense order, where Father had essentially abandoned the relationship when Son was 13, and Father later reached out to Son only after Mother began pursuing a contribution for college expenses.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
Mother and Father divorced in 2009, upon which Mother was granted sole legal and primary physical custody of Son. Father exercised regular parenting time for several months, until Father and Son — who was then 13 years old — had an altercation during which Son alleged that Father struck Son in the face.
Thereafter, Father continued to pay child support, but exercised no parenting time and there was no relationship between Father and Son.
In late 2014, Son graduated from high school and was accepted to IU and Ball State. Mother subsequently filed a petition for a post-secondary educational expense order. Father then began reaching out to Son, sending him a Facebook friend request that Son did not accept, and leaving several voicemails that Son did not return.
After a hearing, the trial court concluded that Father and Son clearly had a strained relationship, but it did not constitute “repudiation” by Son. The trial court then issued a college expense order allocating 1/3 of expenses to Father, Mother, and Son. Father appealed.
The Court of Appeals reviewed the McKay case and its repudiation-related progeny. The Court essentially found little to fault in Son’s reactions to a difficult situation. The Court considered Father’s outreach to Son to be “meager” and of questionable sincerity, since it occurred only after Mother filed a petition for a college expense order. Finding that the evidence supported the trial court’s determination that there was no repudiation by Son, the trial court’s order was affirmed.
To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: Kevin R. Koontz v. Erin L. (Koontz) Scott
James A. Reed and Michael R. Kohlhaas of Bingham Greenebaum Doll represent clients in a wide spectrum of relationship transition and wealth planning matters, including premarital agreements, estate planning, 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.