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Emancipation and Termination of Child Support

“When does my child support obligation end? How do I stop child support?”

Under recent developments in Indiana law, a child is emancipated at nineteen (19) years of age. However, what most parents do not understand is there is no provision to automatically trigger a cessation in an income withholding order and some parents have child support withheld from their pay by a withholding order for an extended period of time. 

The best way to handle emancipation as a matter of law is to have counsel draft a petition for you to terminate child support on the first Friday following the child’s nineteenth (19th) birthday. Trying to collect child support overpayments is difficult to do and often not worth the legal fees to do so. Thus, the prudent parent meets with counsel and files his or her motion before the child’s nineteenth (19th) birthday.

Indiana Emancipation Statutes

That said, the termination of child support by emancipation at age nineteen (19) does not negate any child support arrearage and which is still owing and due until it is paid in full. If there is an arrearage, and this is paid through an income-withholding order, this will have to be reworked to reflect it is pay on the arrearage. At this time, you should have your counsel precisely calculate the arrearage so there is no issue as to when it will be paid off. Some parents elect to pay the entire former weekly child support payment to rapidly pay down/off the arrearage. This is a strategy call to make with your counsel and/or a matter of budgeting, such as if you will next be paying for college expenses which can be order for post-secondary education.

In cases where a child is incapacitated at age nineteen (19), the child support continues during the period of incapacity continues or until further order of the court. To the extent not already considered, it is important to consider Social Security Disability and how this factors into your child support obligation, if at all.

In addition to emancipation as a matter of law at age nineteen (19), a minor may be emancipated before this age by statute in the following upon an evidentiary showing of any of the following:

  • The child is on active duty in the United States armed forces.
  • The child has married.
  • The child is not under the care or control of either parent or an individual or agency approved by the court.

If you establish any of the circumstances in the evidence, the court must emancipate the child and terminate child support.

Although rare, a juvenile court may entertain a petition brought by the child for emancipation. If this is the case, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate the allegations of the child’s emancipation petition and hold a hearing. The court may grant the petition for emancipation if it finds the following facts:

  • The child wishes to be free from parental control and protection and no longer needs that control and protection.
  • The child has sufficient money for the child’s own support.
  • The child understands the consequences of being free from parental control and protection.
  • The child has an acceptable plan for independent living.

With such a showing, the juvenile court may completely emancipate the child, at which time the child has all of the rights and responsibilities of an adult. Where there is doubt, the court may partially emancipate the child, specifying the terms of the emancipation which may include, among other things, suspension of the parent’s or guardian’s duty to support the child, which supersedes the support order of the divorce or paternity court.

Emancipation and termination of child support is a highly technical domestic law. If your case involves emancipation, you should seek a skilled domestic attorney to work through the various ways to terminate your child support by emancipation. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates have handled all aspects of emancipation and the termination of child support.

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Dixon & Moseley, P.C., is a law firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. We serve clients in six core practice areas: family lawappellate practicefirearms lawgeneral practicepersonal injury and criminal law.

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Based in Indianapolis and founded in 1995, Dixon & Moseley, P.C. is a niche law firm focused on successfully dealing with the complexities of divorce, high-conflict child custody and family law. Known for their ability to solve extremely complex situations with high quality work and responsiveness, Dixon & Moseley, P.C. will guide you every step of the way. The family law attorneys at Dixon & Moseley, P.C. will help you precisely identify your objectives and the means to reach your desired result. Life is uncertain. Be certain of your counsel. Indianapolis Divorce Attorneys, Dixon & Moseley, P.C.

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