In the past few years, the termination of child support obligations, called emancipation, has substantially changed. Formerly 21 years of age, children are now, typically, emancipated at age 19. Under select circumstances, emancipation may be found at an earlier age, for example, if a child gets married or joined the military. The opposite also applies if the child is incapacitated, meaning that the child support obligation continues after 19 years of age until further court order.
If your child is contemplating attending college and you are subject to a child support obligation, it is important to understand recent changes to the Indiana laws relating to parental contributions to college. Because of recent changes to Indiana law, for families who are parties to court orders or agreements on custody, parenting time and child support, either party may petition the Court for post-secondary education expenses until the child turns 21.
What does this mean for you? First, go back to your divorce decree and review any previous agreements or orders. Depending on what the order says, or doesn’t say, it is important to speak with the other party about what your child’s plans are, and what the parties’ involved, including the child, have in terms of expectations for contributions. Also, contact an attorney to discuss what your options are. If there are differences in the parties’ expectations, it’s important to consider the factors Indiana law uses to determine what a party’s contribution to college would be. Courts will typically look at the circumstances of the parties and the child and use in-state, public tuition to determine the party’s and the child’s contribution, if any. Court’s may also add other post-secondary education expenses to be shared between the parties and child, including but not limited to books, lab fees, parking expense, room and board and meal plans; however, this depends greatly on the parties’ requests and economic circumstances.
As your child ages, be sure to consult with the other party to discuss changing matters in your child’s life, such as post-secondary education expenses as it is easier to deal with these issues before they are imminent. Griffith Law Group is experienced in crafting post-secondary education agreements which an address your concerns about college contributions. Please contact us for a consultation on your options on child support termination, child support modification or post-secondary education expenses.