Emancipation of a Child in Indianapolis
What is your duty to support your child?
The issue of emancipation usually arises in the context of modifying or
terminating a child support obligation. A parent generally has the duty
to support their child until that child is officially emancipated. Emancipation
terminates a parent's obligation to support the child and frees the
child from the care, custody, and control of their parents.
A child is legally emancipated when they reach the age of 19. The Indiana legislature lowered the age of emancipation from 21 to 19 in 2012.
There are two circumstances where a child under the age of 19 can be determined
to be legally emancipated. First, if the child is under 19, the Courtmay find a child to be emancipated if the child:
- is at least 18 years old;
- has not attended college or post-secondary school in the last 4 months
and is not enrolled in college or a post-secondary educational institution; and
is or is capable of supporting himself or herself through employment. However,
if a Court finds that the child is 18 years of age and has not attended
school in the last 4 months, but the child is only able to
partially financially support themselves, the Court may order that
child support be reduced, instead of terminated, in order to protect the child.
In the second circumstance, the Court
shall find a child to be legally emancipated if the child:
- is on active duty in the United States armed services;
- has married; or
- is not under the care or control of either parent or an individual or agency
approved by the Court.
Child Support for Incapacitated Children
There are some situations where a parent will be required to continue supporting
a child after they have turned 19 years of age. If the child is incapacitated,
the Court may find that a parent has the duty to support them as an adult
child. "Incapacitation" means that the child is unable to financially
support themselves entirely through employment due to a mental or physical
condition. In these cases, a parent may be responsible to support the
child during their incapacity or until the Court rules otherwise.
What is emancipation?
Emancipation occurs when a child is no longer under the control of a parent
or guardian, and the parent is no longer responsible for the child. A
Court will terminate the child support order in place upon finding that
a child is emancipated.
When is a child emancipated?
A child is emancipated by law when the child reaches 19 years of age.
A Court may find that a child is emancipated before this age under certain
circumstances, such as marriage or financial independency. In other cases,
incapacitated children may never be considered fully emancipated, even
past the age of 19. This means parents may be somewhat responsible for
support for their adult children.
Does the Court automatically stop child support when my child turns 19?
No. Even if a child reaches the age of 19, the Court does not automatically
terminate child support. The parent paying child support is under an ongoing
obligation to continue to pay the Court-ordered amount until the Court
issues an order finding the child to be emancipated and terminating child
support. The burden is on the parent paying child support to petition
the Court to terminate child support and find the child emancipated.
Will I have to pay for my child’s educational expenses after their
A parent may still be required to pay for educational expenses after a
child is emancipated. Educational expenses are different from child support
and may include tuition, books, supplies, activity fees, room, and board.
A request for a parent to contribute to a child's educational expense
must be made before a Court has determined that a child is emancipated.
If one child is emancipated, will I have to pay the same amount for the
Until you receive further notice from a judge, you will be expected to
pay the same amount of child support in full. In most cases, the Court
will order a reduction of the support when one child is emancipated, but
this will depend on the circumstances. It is important to note that a
Court will not usually reduce the undivided amount pro-rata, because it
may leave the remaining children with an insufficient amount.
Have more questions? Seeking legal guidance? Reach out to child custody and support lawyers
at Hollingsworth & Zivitz in Carmel, IN. We proudly serve clients in
Indianapolis and throughout Central Indiana!