July 22, 2019

Significant Family Law Updates Focusing on Child Support, Relocation Passed by Indiana General Assembly

The Indiana General Assembly recently enacted new legislation and passed changes to existing statutes that will significantly impact family law governing child support and child relocation. Both updates took effect July 1, 2019.

Basic Child Support Extended in Limited Circumstances

The new child support legislation provides for the support of children over age 19 who continue to be enrolled in full-time secondary school. This new legislation is designed to protect children who remain in high school after their 19th birthday and constitutes a material addition to Indiana law regarding basic child support. Here’s what the legislation says:

If a child is a full-time student in a statutorily defined secondary school and a parent or guardian files a notice advising the court that the child continues or will continue to be enrolled in secondary school, child support continues until and terminates upon the child’s graduation from secondary school even if the child is age 19 or older.

The required notice must be filed with the court and provided to each party to the child support proceeding not earlier than the child’s 17th birthday and not later than the child’s 19th birthday. The notice must include proof of the child’s enrollment and expected graduation date.

If a notice is filed, an objection or request for hearing must be filed not later than 30 days after a party receives the notice, and if no notice objection or request for hearing is filed, the court may without holding a hearing issue an order continuing child support through the date in which the child is expected to graduate.

Significant Changes Made to Custody Relocation Statutes

For the first time in 13 years, the Indiana General Assembly has made significant changes to Indiana’s statutes governing the relocation of children. The changes, which apply to custody and parenting time actions whether by court order or by paternity affidavit, dramatically alter the timeline and obligations regarding the potential relocation of a child and explain in much greater detail the authority and obligations of courts. Here’s a summary of the changes:

Unless a court finds that disclosure contains a significant risk of substantial harm to the individual required to provide the disclosure or a child, an individual who has or is seeking custody, parenting time or grandparent visitation shall at all times keep all other individuals who are seeking rights with a child advised in writing (including electronically) of the individual’s:

  • Home address
  • All telephone numbers and
  • All electronic mail addresses

A relocating individual is not required to file a notice of intent to move if:

  • The relocation has been addressed by a prior court order, including a court order relieving the relocating individual of the requirement to file a notice and
  • The relocation will result in (1) a decrease in the distance between the relocating individual’s residence and the non-relocating individual’s residence, or (2) an increase of not more than 20 miles between the relocating individual’s residence and the non-relocating individual’s residence, and in either circumstance the child is allowed to remain enrolled in the child’s current school.

Upon motion of a party, a court shall set the relocation issue for hearing to allow or restrain the relocation of a child and to modify, if appropriate, custody, parenting time, grandparent visitation and child support orders (with an exception from the requirement to file a notice not affecting the court’s authority to modify).

A court may order a relocating individual and a non-relocating individual to participate in mediation or another alternate dispute resolution process before a hearing either on its own motion or on motion of a party.

An individual required to file a notice must:

  • File and serve the notice on each non-relocating individual who is a party to the action in accordance with the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure not later than 30 days before the date of the intended relocation or not more than 14 days after the relocating individual becomes aware of the relocation, whichever is sooner.
  • Send the notice to each non-relocating individual who is not a party to the action by registered or certified mail not later than 30 days before the date of the intended relocation or not more than 14 days after the relocating individual becomes aware of the relocation, whichever is sooner and
  • Provide in the notice:
    1. Physical and mailing addresses of the relocating individual
    2. All of the relocating individual’s telephone numbers
    3. The date the relocating individual intends to move
    4. A brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of the child
    5. A statement that the relocating individual does or does not believe that a revision of parenting time or grandparent visitation is necessary
    6. A statement that a non-relocating individual must file a response regarding a relocation of the child with the court not later than 20 days after service of the notice
    7. A statement that a party may file a petition requesting an order to prevent the temporary or permanent relocation of a child
    8. A statement that a non-relocating individual may file a petition to modify custody, parenting time, grandparent visitation or child support and
    9. A statement that all existing custody, parenting time, grandparent visitation and child support orders remain in effect until modified by the court.

The non-relocating parent’s response, if required, must include:

  • A statement that the non-relocating parent:
    1. Does or does not object to the relocation of the child
    2. If applicable, requests the modification of custody, parenting time, grandparent visitation or child support
    3. If applicable, requests a temporary or permanent order to prevent the relocation of a child and
    4. If applicable, requests a hearing on the motion
  • A statement whether or not the relocating individual and the non-relocating parent have participated in mediation or another alternative dispute relocation process regarding relocation of the child.

A non-relocating parent is not required to file a response if the parties have filed a written agreement with the court resolving all issues and also filed a Child Support Obligation Worksheet if the agreement results in a modification of child support.

On the request of either party, a court shall hold a full evidentiary hearing to allow or restrain the relocation of the child and to review and modify, if appropriate, custody, parenting time, grandparent visitation and child support orders.

Any person who has a child between the age of 17 and 19 who is anticipated to be enrolled in secondary school after age 19 or who is involved in the potential relocation of a child should carefully evaluate these new statutes.

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