When Does Child Support End?
In addition to frequently being one of the most contentious issues in divorces where children are involved, child support is also one of the longest lasting aspects of divorce. It’s important for both parents to remember that they are legally obligated to support their children even after a divorce, but many don’t realize that there is (usually) a hard limit for how long that support will last.
In California, child support terminates when the child turns 18 years old. There is an exception when the 18-year-old child is still a full-time high school student and lives with a parent. In that situation, child support terminates when the child turns 19 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs first.
Child support also terminates if a child marries, joins the military, is emancipated or dies.
Child Support And The Age of Majority
Every state in the country has legal guidelines that allow child support to end when a child reaches what’s called the “age of majority”–the legal age under state law when an individual is no longer a minor can make legal decisions on their own behalf.
In most states, the age of majority is 18, but some in some states the age is 21.
The term “emancipation”–in regards to child support–refers to the process in which a minor becomes legally self-supporting and no longer requires the financial support of his or her parents.
A minor may become emancipated before the age of majority, when he or she gets married, joins the military, leaves home or becomes economically independent. Under such circumstances, a parent no longer has the obligation to provide child support.
Ending Child Support
Contrary to some parent’s assumptions, child support payments do not end automatically. The parent who is obligated to make child support payments must request that their legal obligation to pay child support end once the child reaches the age of majority or becomes emancipated.
To find out whether your obligation to pay child support is ending, you can contact the child support agency in your state for assistance in determining your child support end date, or speak with an attorney to discuss your specific rights and responsibilities.
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