When does Child Support End?
One of the most common questions newly separated parents ask me is "how long will I have to pay child support?" Unfortunately, there is no magic answer to this question.
Generally speaking, a child stops being eligible for support when they are or should be able to support themselves. This will happen at different times in each case, depending on the circumstances of each child.
If a child is over the age of 18 and no longer in school full time, they are expected to start supporting themselves and parents' obligation to support them ends. This is not always the end of the story. For example, if a child takes some time off school to work, but then goes back to school, the obligation to support that child may start up again once they're back full time.
If a child is over the age of 18 and still enrolled in school full time, then there will still be an obligation for support. If a child is in school full time then they will not be expected to earn enough money to support themselves. This does not mean that a child going to school full time is completely off the hook financially. Children are expected to help support themselves, whether that is from money earned at summer jobs or by applying for student loans.
There is no magic age when child support stops for children who are over 18 and going to school full time. In most cases, child support will end after a child has finished their first university or college degree. In most cases, parents will not be expected to pay for multiple degrees. However, if a child is doing very well in school, and if their parents have the financial means to help them with more than one degree, a court can extend the child support obligation beyond one college or university degree. Things can also go the other way for those over 18 and in school. If a child is failing classes or skipping classes for example, child support may stop before they are finished their first degree.
In rarer cases, a child support obligation may actually stop before a child turns 18. If a child is over the age of 16 and leaves home voluntarily, then child support will no longer have to continue. If a child is over the age of 16 and gets married, child support will stop as well. There will always be a child support obligation for children under the age of 16.
There is no hard and fast rule for figuring out when child support should end. Each case will be different just like each child is different.