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ND: Child support doesn't extend to college
Child support doesn't extend to college
By DALE WETZEL, Associated Press Writer
A divorced father can't be ordered to help pay his adult daughter's college
bills, because a law change six years ago does not permit it, the North
Dakota Supreme Court ruled.
The court's decision came Wednesday in a dispute between Fargo attorney
Jerry Larson and his former wife, Glenda Larson-Parker, who had hoped the
Supreme Court would stretch a parent's child-support obligation to include
The Larsons' daughter, Laura, was at the top of her Fargo South High School
class when she graduated in May 2004. She is attending Georgetown University
in Washington, D.C., which costs more than $40,000 a year. Court records
describe her as a gifted student, violinist and leader.
Larson-Parker's argument relied heavily on a 1998 Supreme Court ruling,
called the Donarski decision, to argue that North Dakota law allows a
parent's child support obligation to extend to college tuition bills.
However, the year after the decision, the Legislature changed the law to
allow child support for a 19-year-old "only under circumstances similar to
that of a child who obtains the age of majority before he or she graduates
from high school," Justice Dale Sandstrom wrote in the court's majority
opinion. "It does not allow a court to award post-minority child support for
Justice Mary Muehlen Maring dissented, saying the Legislature's intent in
changing the law in 1999 was "far from clear." The legislative history does
not include any indication that lawmakers discussed the Donarski ruling when
changing the law, she said.
Sandstrom, Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle and Justice Carol Ronning Kapsner
made up the court's majority in Wednesday's ruling. Former Justice William
Neumann, who resigned from the court March 14 to become director of the
state Bar Association, did not participate in the decision.
Neumann, Maring and former Justice Herbert Meschke made up the Supreme
Court's majority in the Donarski case, which was decided in June 1998.
Sandstrom and VandeWalle dissented.
Eliminate the impossible and whatever
remains, no matter how improbable, must
be the truth.
---- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ---
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