EMANCIPATION in INDIANA
When is a Child Emancipated for Purposes of Child Support in Indiana?
Indiana Courts most often order noncustodial parents to pay child support in an amount calculated according to the Indiana Child Support Guidelines. The noncustodial parent is also often ordered to provide health insurance coverage for the children and required to pay a portion of uninsured medical expenses.
The authority to order child support is contained in Indiana Code 31-16-6-1 which states: "In an action for dissolution of marriage under I.C. 31-15-2, legal separation under I.C. 31-15-3, child support under I.C. 31-16-2, or establishment of paternity under I.C. 31-14, the court may order either parent or both parents to pay any amount reasonable for support of a child."
Divorce clients often want to know at what age or circumstances this child support stops. When is a child emancipated?
Effective July 1st 2012, the age of emancipation in Indiana was lowered from 21 years of age to 19 years of age. Indiana Code 31-16-6-6 provides that the duty to support a child ceases when the child becomes 19 years of age.
A child can also be emancipated earlier than age 19 if they are married, on active duty in the United States armed forces or not under the care and control of either parent or an individual or agency approved by a court.
A child can also be emancipated younger than age 19 if they are:
• At least eighteen (18) years of age;
• Have not attended a secondary school or post secondary educational institution for the prior four (4) months and are not enrolled in a secondary school or post secondary educational institution; and
• Is or is capable of supporting himself or herself through employment.
In this case, the child support terminates upon the court's finding and order that the conditions listed above are met. If the court finds that the conditions listed above are met but that the child is only partially supporting or is capable of only partially supporting himself or herself, the court may order that support be modified or reduced instead of terminated.
Child support is not terminated or ended until a court issues an order stopping child support. If you want a court to address the issues of emancipation of a child, you will need to file a Petition with the court and obtain an order for the emancipation which terminates child support. If you simply stop paying child support without a court order, you are likely violating the current child support order and may be subject to punishment for contempt.
In order for a court to terminate a child support order prior to 19 years old, a petition must be filed with the court.
If the non-custodial parent owes a child support arrearage at the time the court order for current child support terminates, he or she is still required to pay the arrearage.
If two or more children are covered by a child support order and one child is emancipated, the amount of the child support order is not automatically reduced. The parties have to obtain a modification of the court order to determine the new amount of support for the remaining child or children.
When a child has reached 19 years of age, but is attending school, the court can issue an order or payment of educational expenses or educational support. I.C. 31-16-6-6 specifies that support for educational needs can continue past the age of 19. Please note that that a Petiton requesting payment of educational expenses or for an educational expense order must often be filed with the appropriate court before the child turns age 19. Educational expenses can include, among other things, amounts for the child's education in elementary and secondary schools and at post secondary educational institutions.
Payment of educational expenses and educational support orders are complicated and often contentious issues in divorce cases that are beyond the scope of this article. I will discuss educational expenses and educational support orders in another article. If you have specific questions about educational expenses or educational support orders in an Indiana divorce or paternity case, you should consult an Indiana divorce or family law lawyer.
The obligation for payment of educational expenses or educational support must be ordered by the court and a Petition requesting an order for payment of educational expenses or educational support must be filed before certain deadlines.
If a court established a duty to support a child in a court order issued before July 1, 2012, the parent or guardian of the child or child may file a petition for educational needs until the child becomes 21 years of age.
If a court has established a duty to support a child in a court order issued after June 30, 2012, the parent or guardian of the child; or the child may file a petition for educational needs until the child becomes 19 years of age.
If an order was issued after June 30, 2012, that denied support for educational needs to a child who was less than 21 years of age at the time the petition for educational needs was filed; and support for educational needs was denied based on the fact that the child was older than 18 years of age, a parent or guardian of the child or the child may file with the appropriate court a subsequent petition for educational needs which the court will consider on the merits.
The important thing for parents to remember is there are time limitations for filing petitions or requests for educational expenses or an educational support order. Failure to meet these deadlines will prevent obtaining an order for educational expenses or an educational support order.
Obtaining an order emancipating a child for child support purposes in an Indiana Divorce can become complicated and contested. Once an order for emancipation is granted, the County and State child support agencies must be notified of the change. Questions regarding educational expenses and educational support orders in relation to emancipation are very fact sensitive and usually become complicated. This article is intended to give only a brief overview of the laws in Indiana for emancipation in divorce cases. If you have specific questions, you should consult and Indiana divorce or family law attorney for advice applicable to your own special situation.
The Indiana Child Support Guidelines can be found HERE.
I.C. 31-16-6-6 can be found HERE.
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