In Your Corner: New Law Changes Child Support Age

By Ryan Elijah

June 15, 2012 Updated Jun 15, 2012 at 8:06 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) -- Two week ago, a letter went out to over 50-thousand Indiana families. It described new legislation passed by the General Assembly that lowered the age of Emancipation for the purpose of child support to 19 from 21.

"I was furious, I had to sit down and say what? This was the first I've heard of it. They gave me thirty days" said Tracy, the Mother of a 20-year-old student.

Senate Enrolled Act 18 (SEA 18) was passed at the end of the spring session, for Tracy and her 20-year-old daughter Jordan it means the $400 dollars she receives from her Dad will stop in a few weeks. For a Mom already working two jobs and a daughter loaded up with classes, the change is a concern.

"They don't think how we need that money, I feel he should have to pay. It would have been nice to know sooner so we could have budgeted for the change", said 20-year-old Jordan.

"she's not going to have any money, this is money that goes directly to her for living expenses", said Jordan's Mother.

It's likely most people thought the emancipation age was 18 - and in most states it is. New York, Mississippi and Georgia are now the only states above 19. Since Federal money is tied to how states are rated on child support performance, lawmakers wanted to make sure Indiana was on a level playing field. Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Mike McAlexander said his office sees a big drop off in support after graduation.

"I think it's a realization by the legislature that this is how people live"

The legislation does exempt disabled children and allows a student to petition the court system for education assistance beyond 19. If you're enrolled in the Title IV-D program and have questions you need to contact your local prosecutor's office or an attorney prior to July 1st.

Jordan isn't optimistic she'll receive any education assistance and while she understands why the change was made, she feels the 30 day notice puts students on a tight budget like her in a difficult position. She works during the summer, but has few hours available to work based on her class schedule when school begins.

The new changes take effect July 1st. In the state of Ohio, the Emancipation age is 18.

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