DAVID P. ALLEN, Appellant (Petitioner below),
KIMBERLY W. ALLEN, Appellee (Respondent below)
from the Crawford Circuit Court, No. 13C01-0201-DR-00009. The
Honorable Kenneth Lynn Lopp, Judge.
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No.
FOR APPELLANT: Mark D. Johnson, Allen & Johnson, LLC, Salem,
FOR APPELLEE: Matthew J. McGovern, Anderson, Indiana.
Justice. Rush, C.J., Rucker, and Massa, J.J., concur.
case presents the question of whether a trial court may order
that divorced parents be obligated to pay the graduate or
professional school expenses of their adult children pursuant
to the Indiana child support statutes. While the statutory
provision at issue provides for payment of "
postsecondary" educational expenses, the term
postsecondary is undefined. Today we hold that the term
" postsecondary," as used in the provision
permitting an award for postsecondary educational expenses,
does not include graduate or professional school expenses.
and Procedural History
Allen (Father) and Kimberly Allen (Mother) divorced in 2002.
The parties agreed to share custody of their two children,
with Father paying child support to Mother. The parties'
settlement agreement and dissolution decree did not provide
for payment of college expenses. In 2010, the parties agreed
to an order whereby basic child support for their daughter,
Hunter, was terminated, Father became responsible for
Hunter's undergraduate educational expenses, and Mother
became responsible for providing Hunter's health
2013, shortly before Hunter's 21st birthday, when Hunter
was a senior at Indiana University, Father petitioned the
court for modification of the agreed order. Father advised
the court that Hunter was considering post-graduate education
in dental school and Father requested, among other things, an
order regarding Hunter's graduate educational expenses.
Specifically, he sought to have Hunter's dental school
expenses apportioned between him and Mother.
trial court held two evidentiary hearings and entered an
order in October 2014. With regard to Hunter's
educational needs, the trial court found that Hunter
graduated from IU with a degree in biology with highest
distinction and that she scored in the 97th percentile on the
Dental School Admission Test. It further found that Hunter
was accepted into the IU dental school, where the expenses of
attending are approximately $75,000 annually and that she had
started attending summer classes at the IU dental school to
begin her graduate education.
the parents' financial situations, the trial court found
that Mother had assets of approximately $843,000 and a weekly
income of approximately $1,700. It found that Father had a
net worth of over $2 million and access to significant real
property, personal property, bank accounts and business
interests. It also found that while Father earned
approximately $101,000 in 2013, he was capable of generating
approximately $4,600 per week. Accordingly, the trial court
ordered that the 2010 agreement between the parties was to
remain in effect. Thus, Father is responsible for the cost of
dental school for Hunter (less any contribution from Hunter
through grants, scholarship, loans, etc.) and Mother is
responsible for Hunter's health insurance.
appealed, arguing, among other things, that the trial court
erred in not determining each parent's presumptive share
of educational expenses according to the Child Support
Guidelines. Mother cross-appealed, arguing that the trial
court did not have statutory authority to enter an
educational award for graduate school expenses. The Court of
Appeals reversed, agreeing with Father that the trial court
erred by essentially making Father liable for all dental
school expenses that Hunter does not otherwise cover.
Allen v. Allen, 38 N.E.3d 229, [slip op.] at *7-8
(Ind.Ct.App. 2015). It rejected Mother's cross-appeal
argument that the trial court lacks authority to order
parents to pay for their child's graduate school
expenses. 38 N.E.3d 229, Id. at *6. The Court of
Appeals remanded the matter to the trial court for an order
that apportions dental school expenses between Father, Mother
and Hunter. 38 N.E.3d 229, Id. at *8.
Court of Appeals denied Mother's petition for rehearing.
Mother then sought transfer, which we granted, thereby
vacating the opinion below. See Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A).