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How Long Will I Have to Pay Child Support?

If you have been ordered to make child support payments, you may be wondering how long the payments will be required. Every state sets its own child support rules with no universal age at which child support ends. While child support usually ends at 18, it can extend beyond that. There are also cases in which child support can be terminated before then.

Child Support Usually Ends at 18
In the typical child support case, payments will end when the child reaches the age of either 18 or 19 or graduates from high school, whichever comes sooner. This is because child support is designed to support a child’s needs. When someone reaches the age of majority (18), the child is considered an adult capable of supporting himself or herself. It’s important to note that not all states use 18 as the age of majority. There are a few states that extend child support to the age of 21. Some states also order child support payments as long as a child attends college. According to Delancey Street, a provider of Los Angeles hard money loans, child support cash advances can be provided as long as there is underlying property.

Child Support Can Extend into Adulthood
There are some extreme cases in which child support payments may be required after the age of 18. This is most common when the child suffers from a serious disability that makes them incapable of self-support and requires long-term medical treatment or care. Courts often make special exceptions for extra child support when a parent is caring for a child with special needs or a disability. Because the disability is viewed as economic hardship, a parent can receive child support beyond the age of majority to care for the child into adulthood.

Some states also order child support to continue into adulthood when the support payments are used to pursue education, whether it’s completing high school or higher education.

Child Support May End Before 18
There are several circumstances in which a court will consider a child self-supporting and immediately terminate child support payments. This may happen when the child begins to work, but it can also happen due to:

  • Military enlistment
  • Marriage
  • Leaving home. When the child leaves their family home and gets their own place, parents may no longer have an obligation to pay child support.
  • Emancipation. This term refers to an uncommon court process that allows a minor to become self-supporting without financial support required from either parent.

It’s important to remember that child support payments will not end automatically. The parent responsible for payments must request that their financial obligation end when the child reaches the age of majority in their state or a minor becomes emancipated. Because the child support end date can be difficult to calculate, it’s a good idea to work with the child support agency to determine the correct end date or speak with a family lawyer to begin the process.