This blog is written for divorced parents or parents of children in a paternity action that are about to turn 19 years of age. Although minor children are considered to be adults when they turn 18 years of age, there are still parental financial obligations for children of divorce or paternity cases. In the state of Indiana that continues until 19 years of age and possibly beyond. The statutes in Indiana require that a parent must file before the child turns 19 years of age to preserve the financial obligation of child support or college expenses, beyond the age of 19. Under the statute, as a matter of law, children of divorce or paternity cases are legally emancipated on their 19th birthday—unless you act. The following circumstances may require a parent to continue to provide child support beyond a child’s 19th birthday:
- CHILDREN THAT HAVE NOT GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL BY THEIR 19TH
Under the new “emancipation” statute I.C. 31-16-6-6, which became effective July 1, 2019, if your child is a full-time student in a secondary school (high school) and the parent of the child files notice with the court, by the child’s 19th birthday, that advises that the child continues or will continue to be enrolled in a secondary school, the child support continues until and terminates upon the child’s graduation from secondary school. This notice cannot be filed earlier than the child’s 17th birthday. Proof of enrollment and an expected graduation date are required.
- CHILDREN THAT ARE ATTENDING COLLEGE OR POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION
Under the same “emancipation” statute, depending upon when the court order was entered for a duty to support a child, a petition for educational needs (college or post-secondary education), could extend the duty to support a child beyond the age of 19. This petition should be filed before the child turns 19 years of age, but there are some exceptions based upon orders issued before July 1, 2012. This petition for educational needs can be filed by a parent or the child.
- CHILDREN THAT ARE INCAPACITATED.
Under the “emancipation” statute, children that are incapacitated are protected and child support continues during the incapacity or until further order of the court. Incapacity of a child can last for the duration of their lives and the support obligation of the parent continues also. In these instances, it should be determined if the child qualifies for social security benefits.
If you are a divorced parent or there is a paternity action for a child, you could be required to continue to provide support in one of the above scenarios. If you want to preserve this right for your child, you should contact an attorney to discuss the potential obligation for continued support obligation and college or post-secondary educational needs. You should act before your child turns 19 in the above situations so that you can prepare financially and start a discussion with your former spouse or other parent as to continued child support or educational needs.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys’ practice throughout the State of Indiana and understand the financial need or burden required in paying for child support or a child’s college or post-secondary education. Our attorneys have handled this issue at the trial and appellate level. This blog post is written by Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates and is not intended as specific legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.