NEW CHILD SUPPORT LAW By Attorney Corey L. Scott A few months ago when I previewed proposed changes to the law this year, I promised to return to discuss the bills that actually became new law. Well, here we are just a few weeks before the new laws take effect. So my next several articles will discuss new laws taking effect this year. This article discusses changes in child support law. Under current Indiana law, parents are required to pay child support until their children turn twenty-one (21), unless certain exceptions apply and the child is emancipated. However, beginning on July 1, 2012, under Indiana Codes 31-14-11-18 and 31-16-6-6, parents are only required to pay child support until their children turn nineteen (19). With this change, Indiana falls in line with the majority of other States as there are only two other states and the District of Columbia that currently extend the duty to pay child support to the 21st birthday. Of course as with any law, there are exceptions. In this case, the new law reads, “[t]he duty to support a child under this article, which does not include support for educational needs, ceases when the child becomes twenty-one (21) nineteen (19) years of age.” The exception here means that child support for “educational needs” doesn’t necessarily end at nineteen (19) and parents can still be required to pay support past the age of nineteen (19) for educational needs. However, the new law does not define exactly what is meant by “educational needs.” That would have been too easy. My guess is that lawyers, judges, and the Courts will wrestle for some time to get a good working definition as to what constitutes educational needs. Although the law provides for the educational needs exception, it is important to note that under the new law, requests for educational needs support must be filed prior to the child turning nineteen (19). So for example, if a child is attending college but the request for educational needs support is not filed until the child turns twenty (20), then the request would be denied because it was filed too late. Finally, another possible point of future litigation is the fact that the law is written to apply retroactively but is silent as to how the new law will affect child support agreements and previous support orders that require parents to pay support until their children turn twenty-one (21). In fact, there has already been debate among those in the legal profession as to whether the new law can cancel out pre-existing child support agreements, which are akin to contracts between the parties. This point, and others will have to be sorted out over the next few years as the new law is broken in and different issues and scenarios are brought before our Courts, it should be interesting—we’ll see….see you in court.