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How Long Does Child Support Last?

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A Child Support Lawyer can help you navigate the process

When you have a child, it is your obligation to support them, even if you are no longer with the other parent. Financially supporting your child is a legal requirement, and child support payments must be made once ordered. However, there can be a few nuances with child support that courts can change and modify over time. Having the help of a child support lawyer will allow you to navigate these changes and make successful payments for as long as necessary.

Aging Out

The most common way child support ends is when your child ages out of needing it. This happens when your child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes last. Once your child is of age and has graduated, they are no longer considered under their parents’ care, and financial obligations are no longer legally enforced.

However, the order for child support does not immediately end once your child meets these conditions. In order to officially end child support payments, the paying parent needs to contact the Child Support Division of the Attorney General’s office to issue a stop payment order.

Emancipation

Child support payments can end earlier than 18 if your child becomes legally emancipated. There are three main ways a child can obtain this:

  • Marriage
  • Joining the U.S. Army
  • Petitioning the Court

Once their child is emancipated, parents are no longer legally obligated to make child support payments. They must still contact the Attorney General’s office to officially end their child support.

Termination of Parental Rights

Whenever circumstances terminate your parental rights, you are no longer legally obligated to provide child support payments. The most common course of terminating parental rights is through adoption. When someone else adopts your child, this terminates your rights as their parent. You can either give up your rights willingly or a court can order them terminated, depending on the situation. Although your future child support payments are no longer required, you could still be liable to pay for missed/overdue child support payments.

Divorce Agreements

When getting a divorce, you can agree with your spouse on terms that exceed what is provided by law, including child support for your children. Parents may, for example, make an agreement that child support payments will continue past age 18 to help support a child through college. In this case, child support payments would continue as long as your child attends a higher education program. You can decide on the specific criteria for child payment during the divorce proceedings.  However, terms that exceed the provisions of the Family Code will not be enforced by a family court, leaving only civil contract enforcement remedies.

Disability

Although most child support payments end when a child is of age, mental and physical disabilities can extend child support payments indefinitely. In order for a court to order disability child support orders, the disability must have manifested or been known to exist before the child turns 18. Once a child becomes of age, newly discovered disabilities do not entitle them or their parent to child support payments.

In order to qualify for disability support payments, the court must determine whether or not the child is capable of self-support. There must be a need for continuous, substantial care and supervision from either the custodial parent or a paid nurse/assistant to help properly maintain the child and their life. When deciding on the order for child support payments in these cases, the court takes into consideration:

  • The current and future medical needs/costs of the adult child
  • The amount of care required by each parent to support the adult child
  • The financial resources of each parent
  • Available programs that are able to offer financial support for the adult child

After determining that substantial support is necessary, the court will order continuing child support payments past the age of 18 for the disabled child. You must continue to pay these support payments until the disability dissolves or circumstances terminate your parental rights.

Child Support Lawyer in Tyler, Texas

If you have questions about either paying or receiving child support, you need a child support lawyer on your side. Attorney Sarina Hager devoted her practice to putting the needs of children first. However, she understands the financial strain a parent can face. With her help, you can find the right child support agreement that fits all parties involved. Are you currently going through a divorce? Do you need help getting owed child support? Are you struggling to meet your required child support payments? The Hager Law Firm is here to help. Give us a call at (903) 466-0001 to schedule your consultation today.

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