How Long Can Child Support Go On?

Parents of minor children will likely be dealing with child support issues when they divorce. The health and well-being of minor children are very important to the family court system. A myriad of rules, laws, and guidelines are in place to ensure that children don't suffer because of their parent's divorce. Child support may end at several points along the way. Read more below.

Children Attain a Certain Age

Almost all child support orders expire when the child reaches the age of 18 or whatever the age of majority may be in the parties' state of residence. The order, signed by the family court judge assigned to the divorce case, will indicate the time of expiration.

Based on Graduation Dates

It's common for child support to continue through high school in most cases. However, many 18-year-olds are still in school after they celebrate their birthdays. A lot depends on the month of their birthday, when they began school, and how many grades they missed or skipped. That is why many divorce agreements increasingly place the end time for child support at the time the child graduates from high school rather than age 18.

Its also become more popular to extend child support past high school graduation till later. That gives the child time to attain a post-secondary degree while being financially supported by child support. It's worth mentioning, in a related area, that divorce agreements may also contain provisions addressing how college is to be funded by the parents.

Decreased but Not Eliminated

Judges may occasionally allow changes to be made to a child support matter. However, they are very reluctant to remove the obligation entirely. Instead, judges may consider reducing the child support obligation in certain circumstances. Poor health, incarceration, and other major issues with the obligated party's financial situation could cause the amount to change. However, the ending time for child support is seldom changed.

Children and Emancipation

While rare, some children lobby the court to become emancipated from their parents. In that instance, the child is not entitled to child support (or any parental support) after that point. It's not possible to become emancipated from one parent only, however—it's from both parents or not at all. That means the child cannot choose to only become emancipated from the parent not providing child support. Child support is an important issue, and it can also be a tricky one. Speak to your family law attorney for more information.