Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bill to reduce Indiana's Age of Emancipation for Child Support headed to the Indiana General Assembly

The Indiana Child Support and Custody Advisory Committee [ICCSAC] of the Indiana General Assembly met in open session today to discuss and receive testimony about two proposals to amend the age of emancipation of a child whom a parent is obligated to pay support.

Additionally a bill requiring judges to presume that both parents involved in a divorce should share joint legal custody of the children was also presented and heard. I will cover only the emancipation issue today and leave the joint custody issue for later in the week.

Both proposals seek to lower the age of emancipation in Indiana from 21 to 19 years of age. Indiana is currently one of three jurisdictions with the highest emancipation age. The others are Mississippi and Washington D.C.

Preliminary Draft 3237 provides that child support, except for educational support, shall cease at age 19 unless certain conditions are met. This proposal was discussed but not voted on.

Preliminary Draft 3266 provides that child support, except for educational support, shall cease at age 19 unless the parent receiving support petitions the court prior to the child's age of emancipation for the support order to continue. Courts may consider the ability of the child to provide for some of his or her own support and modify the payment amount consistent with that contribution. This proposal was discussed and passed with unanimous support by all members in attendance.

This proposal would also add a provision to Indiana law that a child shall be considered emancipated and support shall cease once the child marries. Under current law parents my still be required to pay support on married children under the age of 21.

Testimony in favour of the proposal was received by prosecutors and, specifically, Carla Mantia of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council. No one spoke in opposition.

The prosecutors and Ms Mantia stated that Indiana is losing federal child support incentive payments because of the low compliance rate with support orders for children over the age of 18 years. They testified that many parents, including custodial parents, believe that the age of emancipation in Indiana is 18 and support is no longer ordered after that.

I would like to again state that no circumstance, including your own death [per caselaw], absolves you of the obligation to comply with a child support payment order unless you get that modified by the court that issued the order.

Because so many parents have quit paying support upon the child reaching age 18 there is a huge arrears that goes uncollected in Indiana. One prosecutor testified that only 7% of the support for children age 18-21, with no other children on the support order, is collected in her jurisdiction. This rate skews Indiana's collection rate lower and is causing the state to lose significant federal dollars.

ICCSAC has been proactive in seeking ways to ensure compliance with child support payment orders and also reduce the payment burden or eliminate barriers to compliance on parents subject to those orders. Last year the Committee examined ways to help non-compliant parents receive assistance to modify support orders or opportunities to become compliant. Details about some of these proposals are in the ICCSAC 2010 Annual Report.

If you need assistance with a child support or custody issue please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me.

If you would like to follow my activities more closely then send a friend request to my Political FaceBook page.

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More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.

©2011 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.


4610samiam said...
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4610samiam said...
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4610samiam said...
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