Does Child Support End When They Turn 18?

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Whether you are the parent paying child support or the one receiving, the title question is likely to interest you—Does child support end when my kid turns 18? The short answer is, it depends. In most states, support payments will cease on your child’s 18th birthday. But exceptions do exist.

There are multiple criteria for when and how child support payments come to a close. Generally speaking, child support ends when a child turns 18, goes to college, dies, or marries. But of these criteria, the age requirement varies most widely.

Age of Majority

The first age-related criteria for ending child support payments is that the child reaches the “age of majority.” This legal guideline applies to all 50 states, but the age of majority isn’t always 18. In some states, a 17-year-old is considered having reached the age of majority if he/she has graduated high school. In other states, the age of majority is 21.

And the age requirement may also depend on individual circumstances. For example, if the age of majority is 18 in a particular state, child support payments will likely end when the child turns 18. However, that same state may allow support payments to continue for children who still live at home, have special needs, or remain in high school after their 18th birthday. Understanding when child support payments end in your state is essential whether you are paying or receiving. If you want support payments to continue past the age of 18, or you are seeking an early termination on court-ordered payments, it’s important to know how and when your state determines the end of child support payments.

Emancipation

Child support payments for children under the age of 18 may end if a child becomes emancipated. Emancipation occurs when a minor no longer depends on the financial support of his/her parents due to joining the military, getting married, or becoming otherwise economically independent.

Child Support During College

In some states, child support payments may continue to be ordered beyond the age of majority if the support goes toward the child’s post-secondary education, including college or vocational training schools. Some child support agreements may even include a provision for college support when the state itself does not mandate this type of support.

Children with Special Needs

If the parent receiving support is caring for a child with a long-term physical or cognitive disability, courts may order support to continue after the child reaches the age of majority. Having a child with a chronic disability may satisfy the requirements of economic hardship for the custodial parent, and the timeline for continued support payments will depend on the custodial parent’s income, the type of disability, the expected cost and burden of care, and other factors.

Judges are bound to follow the laws of each state when it comes to the end of child support payments. This is why it’s so important to fully understand how your state views this monumental occasion, whether you are the one paying or receiving support.

Step one is to be aware of your state’s age of majority. But keep in mind that the age of majority isn’t always a number, and even if it is (18 or 21, for example), other factors will likely come into play. Does your state allow child support payments to continue if your adult child is in college or is suffering from a disability? An experienced family law attorney is your best recourse if you are concerned about future child support payments and how you family will be affected.

Modifications to Child Support Payments

If life events have changed your ability to make child support payments, or your need to receive them, it may be in your best interest to seek a child support modification. Doing so may result in a court order to lower support payments or provide larger support payments, depending on your specific circumstances.

It’s important to understand that child support payments do not just automatically stop when a child reaches the age of majority. The parent responsible for making these payments must request an end to the payments. This is why it’s so essential to know your state’s age of majority and familiarize yourself with other factors that could affect your need to pay, or your ability to receive child support payments beyond a certain date. Contact an experienced family law lawyer, such as the team at Vogel LLP, if you have questions about child support or any other family law-related matter.

August 28, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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