Understanding Emancipation

Parents pay child support for their children’s benefit. Prior to July 1, 2012, a parent’s child support obligation, including educational expenses, ceased when the child turned 21 years of age unless the child was incapacitated. Effective July 1, 2012, the presumptive age to terminate child support was reduced to 19 years of age. However, this terminated support obligation does not include support for educational needs such as college. As set forth above, the child support continues during the child’s incapacity or until further order of the court.

The court shall grant emancipation and terminate child support prior to the age of 19 if the court finds that the child:

  • is on active duty in the United States armed services;
  • has married; or
  • is not under the care or control of either parent or an individual of the court’s approved agency.

Unlike other child support modification requests, a termination of child support based upon emancipation dates back to the actual date of emancipation, not the date the petition to terminate support was filed with the court.

Termination of Child Support

Once the child is 18 years old, the court may terminate a child support obligation if:

  • the child has not attended a secondary school or postsecondary education institution for the prior four months and is not enrolled;
  • the child is not enrolled in a secondary school or postsecondary education institution; or
  • the child is or is capable of supporting himself or herself through employment. However, if the child is capably of only partially supporting himself or herself, the court may modify the child support obligation rather than terminating it.

Further, if two or more children are covered by a child support order and one child is emancipated, the parent’s child support obligation does not automatically reduce. In order to terminate or modify a child support obligation, a petition must be filed with the court. The court must approve and order the new child support amount for the remaining children.

As set forth above, the timing of the petition to terminate child support is essential. Further, it is important to keep in mind that Indiana has held that overpayments of child support are generally viewed as voluntary and gratuitous. As a consequence, such child support payments are not prepayment nor would they be credited against arrearage due for other children.

Prior to a child’s emancipation, a parent, guardian of the child or the child, may file a petition for educational needs until the child becomes 21 years of age (for support orders entered prior to July 1, 2012) or 19 years of age (for support orders entered after July 1, 2012).

Contact Hains Law, LLC for Help in Your Emancipation Case

If you have questions regarding emancipation, it is important to seek an attorney who will guide you through every step of the process. Joshua R. Hains is a Carmel child support attorney with a decade of experience. Contact Hains Law, LLC to set up an initial consultation.

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