When Does Child Support End?

25 August 2015
 Categories: Law, Blog


As a parent, you are generally responsible for financially supporting your children until they reach the age of 18. Many factors can alter that arrangement, however. If you went through a divorce and are in doubt about your financial obligations, seek the advice of a family law attorney from a firm like Bergermann Law Firm before you stop paying your child support. 


In many states, a parent's responsibility to pay child support ends at 18, considered the age of majority. If your child turns 18 while still in high school, your responsibility to pay will probably continue until he graduates. In some states, the age of majority is 21. If you reside in Illinois or another state with similar laws, you may be required to contribute to your child's college expenses, which is known as non-minor support. In Illinois, this support is not absolutely required by law but is usually ordered by the judge. In other instances, college support may simply be a part of your individual divorce agreement. 

Adoption or Termination of Parental Rights

If your children are adopted by your ex's new spouse, you will no longer have any legal relationship to them and so will have no obligation to give them financial support. This situation also applies if your rights are terminated by the state for any reason. However, if you owe back child support from the time when you did have parental rights, you are still legally obligated to pay that amount. If you fail to do so, you may well suffer legal penalties. 


In certain circumstances, a child under the age of majority may petition the court to become emancipated. In those situations, parents will usually not be required to provide further support. Sometimes emancipation is automatic in certain states. Emancipation can occur when the child joins the military or gets married. Some children are never emancipated due to a disability. In those cases, the parents can be responsible for their care as long as they live.

Child support laws vary from state to state and also from case to case. You need to check with a family attorney before you make assumptions about ending financial support to your children. In the majority of cases, you will be legally obligated to pay child support until your children are at least 18. However, there are a few exceptions. In many cases, your responsibility will extend past the age of majority, sometimes until your child graduates from college or even beyond.