Legally Brief: When is a Child NOT a Child?

By ICADV Chief Legal Counsel Kerry Hyatt Bennett

Indiana’s Emancipation Age

In Indiana, the emancipation age is 19 years old. 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.

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 Court may find a child to be emancipated if the child:

  1. is at least 18 years old;
  2. 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
  3. 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:

  1. is on active duty in the United States armed services;
  2. has married; or
  3. is not under the care or control of either parent or an individual or agency approved by the Court.

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