When does the obligation to pay child support stop?

Most people believe that the obligation to pay child support ends when a child turns 18.  While the age of majority is 18, child support does not always terminate just because a child turns 18.

Child support terminates when the order requiring the payment of the child support dictates payments must end. Kentucky Statutes state that unless there is a written agreement stating when child support will end or unless the termination is provided in a court order/divorce decree, child support will be terminated when the child turns 18 unless the child is a high school student.  If the child turns 18 while still in high school, the child support will continue until the end of the school year or until the child turns 19.

If a child is emancipated due to marriage instead of age, the child support obligation ends on the date emancipation. The obligation to pay back child support does not terminate.

The statute referenced above is as follows:

Unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the decree, provisions for the support of a child shall be terminated by emancipation of the child unless the child is a high school student when he reaches the age of eighteen (18). In cases where the child becomes emancipated because of age, but not due to marriage, while still a high school student, the court-ordered support shall continue while the child is a high school student, but not beyond completion of the school year during which the child reaches the age of nineteen (19) years. Provisions for the support of the child shall not be terminated by the death of a parent obligated to support the child. If a parent obligated to pay support dies, the amount of support may be modified, revoked, or commuted to a lump-sum payment, to the extent just and appropriate in the circumstances. Emancipation of the child shall not terminate the obligation of child support arrearages that accrued while the child was an unemancipated minor.

A qualified marital and family law attorney can review a child support order to determine whether child support will automatically terminate upon certain circumstances. Such an attorney can also assist with an application for modification of support. Please contact the Ken Turner Law Firm if we can be of assistance to you.

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