The purpose of child support is to cover a child’s daily living expenses and care while they are still a minor in their parents’ care. While child support serves an important purpose, at a certain point that obligation ends. One of the most common questions that the Johnson Law Firm receives regarding child support is when does this financial obligation end, and the answer may surprise you. To receive top tier legal advice on your support matter, call or contact our office today to schedule a consultation.
General Rule for Ending Support
Under Missouri law, as a general rule child support ends on a child’s 18th birthday when they reach legal adulthood. However, there are circumstances where the law allows for the noncustodial parent to end support earlier or requires them to continue support after their child’s 18th birthday.
Ending Support Later
There are a number of reasons why child support may extend beyond a child’s eighteenth birthday. The first reason is because the parents agree in their divorce settlement that the noncustodial parent will continue payments. Usually, these last until the child finishes their higher education or at a predetermined age. Relatedly, Missouri law dictates that child support must continue until the child reaches 21 years old if they enroll in an institution or vocational school or higher education no later than October 1 following graduation from high school.
Finally, child support may continue in Missouri if the child has a physical or mental disability that requires continued financial support beyond the child’s 18th birthday. In this situation, the parents can either come to an agreement in their divorce settlement about continued support for their child’s needs or it can be ordered by the judge in the case.
Ending Support Earlier
There are also situations when child support may end earlier than the child’s 18th birthday for a noncustodial parent. Typically, child support can end early if the child becomes legally self-supporting or another party becomes financially responsible for the child. One of these reasons is if the child joins the military. Support ends when the military becomes responsible for their well-being. Another reason that child support may end early is if the child gets legally married prior to their 18th birthday, as their spouse becomes financially responsible for the child.
The last reason why child support may end early is if the child becomes legally emancipated from both parents. This requires a petition to the court, which the judge must approve. Usually, the child is already living on their own and has become financially self-sufficient when an emancipation occurs, but the legal separation of the child from the parents officially ends any obligation to pay child support.
Talk to Our Office Now
Child support can be a complicated issue, but our office is here to help. Do you have more questions about when support ends for your child? Call the office or contact us at the Johnson Law Firm today to schedule a consultation of your case with one of our experienced family law attorneys now.