Missouri Divorce and Family Law Blog
Failure to comply with statutory documentation requirement ends support of child in college
Father requested information concerning Daughter’s college education, and received limited information through the child-support agencies which served as intermediaries between Father and Mother. On March 31, 2010, Father initiated the present proceedings by filing an affidavit for termination of his child support obligation. The circuit court conducted a trial of the matter in April 2011. The circuit court held that Father was entitled to abatement of his child-support obligation during the Fall 2010 academic semester, because he had not been provided with the information concerning Daughter’s college education required by § 452.340.5, RSMo, at the beginning of the semester. The circuit court rejected Father’s arguments that he was also entitled to abatement of his child-support obligations during the Fall 2009, Spring 2010, and Spring 2011 semesters. Father appeals.
REVERSED AND REMANDED.
The Court of Appeals held:
Section 452.340.5 provides for the continuation of child support benefits past the age of eighteen if the child enrolls in an institution of vocational or higher education by the October following their graduation from high school, if certain attendance, academic and notice requirements are met.
Here, Daughter failed to satisfy the requirements of § 452.340.5 in any of the semesters in which the circuit court refused to abate Father’s child support.
In the Fall 2009 semester, Daughter failed to complete twelve credit hours of classes, as required by § 452.340.5. The trial court erroneously held that Daughter was excused from this requirement because she was working at least fifteen hours per week during the semester; the evidence (including Daughter’s testimony) establishes that she failed to meet the fifteen-working-hour threshold. In addition, Daughter’s voluntary withdrawal from one class, which she could have successfully completed but for her withdrawal, cannot be considered “completion” of that class.
With respect to the Spring 2010 semester, Daughter failed to provide Father with copies of her grades for the Fall 2009 semester (which he was entitled to receive “at the beginning” of the Spring 2010 semester), until trial in April 2011. This was too late. In addition, due to her voluntary withdrawal from classes, Daughter failed to complete twelve hours of classes in this semester also.
With respect to the Spring 2011 semester, Daughter failed to provide Father with her course schedule until April 2011. This was not “at the beginning” of the Spring 2011 semester, as required by the statute.
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