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Indiana Emancipation Laws

When does a child support obligation end?

Child support and emancipation go hand in hand with domestic case that likely started by a divorce or paternity filing years before. Often, child support obligations have been in place for some time, and may or may not have been modified throughout the child’s life due to changes in circumstances. But when is a child emancipated for child support purposes in Indiana, and what does emancipation entail?

Recent significant changes to Indiana statutes regarding emancipation in Indiana have modified the age that children are considered emancipated. Prior emancipation laws in Indiana stated that a child was not emancipated, as a matter of law, until they turned twenty-one years old. However, the new law states that Indiana emancipation laws now find children emancipated as a matter of law at age nineteen, with a few exceptions.

The shift in Indiana emancipation law also addresses questions of related matters, such as college and health expense. At age nineteen, many children are attending college and are often unable to support themselves and their academic pursuits without parental assistance.

The Indiana emancipation laws address this topic, and allow for a petition for college expenses and the possibility of the petition being granted if it is filed within a proper timeframe. The issue of what is included in college expenses and how uninsured medical costs are covered for children over the age of nineteen continues to be explored and defined as the law progresses through specific cases. Emancipation law is an undeveloped area of law. However, if a court orders payment for a child that in the same college expense order, a higher court is likely to follow the trial court’s decision. Emancipation at age nineteen is a general rule in Indiana, with a few exceptions depending on the factual specifics of each case.

For example, there may be a potential for emancipation if a child is over the age of eighteen, is not in school, and is supporting himself or herself; a child who is married or in the military may also affect or play into an emancipation matter, even before age 18. These cases are fact sensitive, and meeting with an emancipation attorney to walk through the specifics of your case and how best to handle emancipation of a child and related child support can be key to both you and your child.

As with most areas of law, time is of the essence with issues related to emancipation laws in Indiana, including filing for assistance with college expenses. Consulting with an attorney about the emancipation process and related issues can give you the peace of mind moving forward, and help in determining the financial status of the parties after the child has become emancipated. Consultation with an attorney should be done before the child’s nineteenth birthday and far enough in advance to allow for timely college expense filings.

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