It’s important for the attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., as family law practitioners, to stay updated on Indiana laws to best serve our clients. Part of our ongoing effort to provide effective and efficient legal counsel to meet our clients’ goals includes learning about legislation that impacts the types of cases in which we are often involved. In this blog post, we discuss several changes that will become effective in 2019 that may impact issues in family law (divorce, paternity, child support modification, guardianship, adoption, etc.) that an individual may find themselves facing if you are involved in one of these cases.
Changes to Child Support – Emancipation Status: House Enrolled Act No. 1520 (Amending Ind. Code § 31-16-6-6)
This new legislation, effective July 1, 2019, expands the time in which a child over the age of nineteen (19) may continue to be eligible for child support. Generally, once a child reaches the age of 19, a parent’s duty to support that child ceases unless some exceptions are met. A new exception is provided by this new legislation where if a child turns 19 but is still enrolled in secondary school (broadly speaking, high school), and a parent petitions the court notifying it that the child will continue to be enrolled in secondary school after their 19th birthday, then a child support obligation may extend until the child graduates. Such a petition must be filed between the child’s 17th and 19th birthdays, and it must include proof of enrollment in secondary school and provide an expected graduation date. The petition must be served on all parties to the child support proceeding (divorce or paternity case, usually), and if there is not an objection or a request for a hearing on the petition within thirty (30) days, the court can grant the petition without a hearing.
Changes to What Constitutes a Child Support Order: Senate Enrolled Act No. 206 (Amending Ind. Code § 31-16-8-1)
This addition/clarification to current Indiana Code section 31-16-8-1 goes into effect on July 1, 2019, and it specifically defines what constitutes a “child support order.” This definition can be important because typically, one can only move to modify a child support order if (1) there will be a change of at least twenty (20) percent in one of the parties’ child support obligations from the prior order, and (2) it has been at least one (1) year since the prior order was issued. Under the amended law, a “child support order” only means an order that either (1) establishes or changes the amount of child support to be paid, or (2) denies a modification petition on the merits. A “child support order” does not mean an order solely concerned with parenting time, custody, or issues ancillary to child support.
Changes to Relocation Rules: Senate Enrolled Act. No. 292 (Amending Ind. Code §§ 31-17-2.2-4, 31-17-2.2-0.5, 31-17-2.2-3, 31-17-2.2-5)
This amendment/addition to current law affects several individual statutory code sections, but it can be summarized as follows. In general, parties to a case that involves the custody of a child have to let the other parties know if they intend to relocate (e.g., move their place of residence). This new legislative language, effective July 1, 2019, changes some of those requirements. Under the new language, anyone who has or is seeking custody, parenting time, visitation, or grandparent visitation of a child must keep all other people who have custody, parenting time, or visitation rights advised of their current address, telephone number(s), and electronic mail address(es) at all times, and they must do so in writing.
For individuals who must file a notice of relocation under Indiana law, the requirements have changed for that process. Formerly, the notice had to be provided to non-relocating individuals ninety (90) days in advance of a move, and the notice had to be provided via certified or registered mail. Now, the notice must be filed and served either thirty (30) days prior to a move or fourteen (14) days after learning of the relocation, whatever occurs first. Any individual who may have visitation rights or custody rights but may not be a party to the action still needs to be notified by mail under the same time frame.
Additional language has also been added that may change an individual’s requirement to file a notice of relocation at all. If a relocation has been addressed by a prior court order AND the move will either result in a decrease in distance between the residences of the relocating and non-relocating party or will result in an increase of not more than twenty (20) miles AND the child that is the subject of the litigation will not have to change schools, then a notice may not have to be filed.
Changes to Parenting Time: Senate Enrolled Act. No. 323 (Amending Ind. Code § 31-17-2-21.8)
This new law goes into effect on July 1, 2019, and it permits a court to require that a parent submit to drug testing as a condition of exercising parenting time if (1) the parent has a history of drug use within the past five (5) years, or (2) there is a reasonable likelihood that the parent is currently using drugs.
The landscape of family law is ever-changing, and if you are faced with issues pertaining to family law, obtaining effective legal counsel to achieve your goals is often the first step. This blog is written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle the full spectrum of family law matters throughout Indiana. This blog is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.