Friday, February 19, 2010

Pending Indiana Legislation - Child Support Duty to End at 19

2/22/10 Update: A correction here, the Bill did not pass out of committee and so it died. I leaving this post up because of the interesting comments.

The Indiana House has a bill ending child support at 19 instead of 21. The abstract seems a radical change:

"Duty to support a child. Provides that the duty to support a child ceases when the child becomes 19 years of age. (Current law provides that the duty to support a child ceases when the child becomes 21 years of age.)"
Actually. the statute only changes the age of 21 to 19 while retaining the obligation to provide for education when there is an order for educational benefits. Rather nice to see the General Assembly make a surgical change change to a statute than a complete overhaul (and leaving us to deal with the overhaul's unintended consequences).

This probably is an overdue change. I do not know how many clients have been surprised (more often unpleasantly) that child support does not end at age 18. Maybe worse, I cannot provide an explanation of why support continues to 21. (I have always assumed the reason being that educational benefits came in after the statute establishing child support ended at 21, and the intent was to support children going to post-secondary schools.)

6 comments:

T.A. P said...

Currently Post Secondary Education is calculated on an additional sheet to the CSOW. This often results in a hybrid support order - an "education" component paid directly to school or student and a reduced conventional amount which reflects the summer months and other time student resides with a parent. Will this change necessarily eliminate the at-home component?

Mister-M said...

"Maybe worse, I cannot provide an explanation of why support continues to 21."

I can. It's the Federal matching dollars. The higher the child support order and the longer the support order is in place, the more financial benefits to the states from the federal government.

Never, ever believe this is about "the best interests of the children." It's always about the "best interests of the state's budget" first and foremost.

~Mister-M

Sam Hasler said...

The statute putting in 21 as the age for ending child support dates to 1973. That predates the Title IV-D legislation. Sorry to pop that conspiracy bubble.

Sam Hasler said...

TAP-

I think it would have to. What I read is that child support ends at 19. That we have child support until 21 is where the hybrid order comes into play. Which may actually give us another reason to support this bill (does anyone not think the hybrid orders are a PITA?)

Mister-M said...

It's not so much a "conspiracy bubble" as it is today's reality.

The question is not one of why it was there in the first place, but one of why there is such a struggle to repeal it since children are adults at the age of 18. One can certainly understand CS going through HS graduation given that sometimes birthdays and the end of school don't cooperate.

Further more, many intelligent state legislatures (assuming there is such a thing) have already repealed CS law that allows for orders requiring parents to pay for higher education on Constitutional grounds, and rightfully so.

Reality is, "children" should not have an expectation of financial support from parents after their age of adulthood and certainly not an "lawfully" ordered expectation than their higher education will be paid for.

Sam Hasler said...

Ia m not sure where you get the idea there is a struggle to change the age in Indiana. Frankly, our legislature has more important things to do than family law. (Even if we think this issue is important, there are little things like a budget and education and jobs that come before things that we might wish they would work on).

Whether Indiana children ever had the expectation of getting higher education paid is something that is beyond expectation. Considering the number of Indiana children who do attend higher education and the number of divorces in this state, I doubt there are many who have the expectation that you impute to them.

I do not know what your state law is like but Indiana allows for the non-custodial parent to stop child support once the child is four months out of high school and capable of supporting themselves. Does your state provide for this?

I would nitpick and say that legislatures taking away an educational benefit as part of its child support law probably responds more to pressure from its citizens than to any constitutional argument. But the duty to support one's children goes long back in the history of our common law. Much legislation only incorporated what came before.

By the way, it always matters why something was done to understand where we are and where we can go.