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Repudiation of the Parent-Child Relationship as Defense to Paying College Expenses?

In Indiana, a court may order parents to contribute toward a child's college education. However, repudiation of a parent by the child is a complete defense to such an order. Repudiation is defined as a complete refusal to participate in a relationship with a parent.

In the recent case of Nelson v Nelson, decided March 16, 2016, the Indiana Court of Appeals refused to find that repudiation had occurred between a father and his son. The Father argued that he should not be ordered to pay any money toward his son's college education, because the son had repudiated their relationship and it was the son's fault their relationship was estranged.

Unfortunately, the facts revealed that Father had stopped seeing son, hadn't called or texted him in years, demanded a DNA test when his son was a teenager, didn't attend son's athletic events, and did not send Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, or otherwise acknowledge anything regarding his son. Neither the trial court, nor the Appellate court believe this was repudiation by the son of the Father. Instead, the Court noted: "To condone a finding of repudiation under these facts and circumstances would be to reward Father for his stubborn, angry, and immature behavior. However, we also hope, as did the trial court, that Father and Son can join each other on a path towards full reconciliation." Without repudiation, the Court ordered Father to contribute 1/3 of his son's college expenses.

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Beckman Lawson, LLP
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Fort Wayne, IN 46802

Phone: 260-422-0800
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