Child Support Now Ends at Age 19, not 21!

Effective July 1, 2012, the Indiana legislature changed the age at which child support ends from 21 to 19.  And with any changes to the law come many questions for parents both paying and receiving child support.

 

The new law by itself has no effect on any outstanding order to pay child support.  Only the court that issued the order can make changes to an existing order.

 

So, what does this mean for custodial parents right now?  First off, if you have a 19 year old child and are currently receiving support, it will not stop automatically because of this law.  If your original child support order was issued before July 1, 2012, then the applicable age of emancipation is 21.  There is no automatic termination of child support in Indiana.  Even if your child is 18 years old, the obligation remains until the child is 21 years of age or until he is emancipated.  However, for new cases in which child support is ordered after July 1, 2012, the obligation to provide support ends at age 19.

 

Likewise for those paying support, the obligation to support your children and to pay the amounts as ordered continues until otherwise ordered by the court.  If you believe you are no longer obligated to pay either because of your child’s age or possible emancipation, you should discuss the details of your situation with an attorney.

 

As with the application of any new law, not every court will interpret it and apply it exactly the same (perhaps partly why we call it “practicing law”).  And not every case is the same.

 

Here is what changed:

  • Support continues to age 19, not 21, unless emancipated, as it was before.
  • Educational assistance can be ordered until age 19, instead of age 21 or possibly beyond, however this is subject to interpretation by the courts.

What did not change:

  • You still have to support your minor children.
  • The factors which determine emancipation have not changed.
  • Child support does not terminate automatically.
  • Child support can be terminated for a variety of reasons before the designated age.
  • Parents can still be ordered to provide financial assistance for college, even if child support is terminated.
  • In most cases, child support can be terminated by agreement of the parties.
  • The duty to provide for an incapacitated child is not determined by age, but rather by the incapacity.