Does Child Support Automatically Stop at 18?

Not knowing when child support ends can catch you off guard, especially if you are the custodial parent. In Georgia, unless the parties agree otherwise, child support ends when the child reaches age 18, graduates high school (as long its done by the age of 20), gets married, is otherwise emancipated, or dies.

Finding out when the child support obligation ends in your case is important because there are steps you may have to take if you want to terminate court-ordered child support obligations or continue them beyond the age of 18. Failure to do so means you could end up making payments beyond the actual child support end date, or being cut off from support when you need it the most.

 

Child Reaches the "Age of Majority"

The "age of majority" refers to the legal age established under state law when an individual is no longer a minor and can make certain legal decisions on their own behalf.

In the state of the Georgia, the age of legal majority is 18 years; until that age all persons are minors.

Child Becomes "Emancipated"

The term "emancipation" refers to a court process through which a minor becomes self-supporting and no longer requires the financial support of his or her parents. A minor may become "emancipated" before the age of majority, when he or she gets married, joins the military, leaves home or becomes economically independent. Under such circumstances, a parent no longer has the obligation to provide child support.

 

Child Support beyond the Age of Majority

College Support

Generally, in Georgia child support terminates once the minor child/children for whom support is being provided turn 18 years of age. The parents may, by agreement, provide that the child support continue for a longer period. However, without the parent’s consent, neither a court nor a jury can require that a parent support a child beyond age 18, except a court or jury may provide that child support continue until age 20 if the child is still enrolled in secondary school.

Support for Special Needs

Courts make exceptions for additional child support for parents who are caring for children who are disabled or who have special needs. Since courts often look at disability in terms of economic hardship, a parent is usually allowed to receive support -- even beyond the age of majority -- to adequately care for a

disabled or special needs child.

 

Procedure for Ending Child Support

Child support payments do not end automatically. Either party may request that the child support obligation to end after the child reaches the age of majority or a minor child becomes emancipated.

For help in determining your child support end date, you can review your most recent child support order or contact the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). To determine your specific rights and obligations, it’s always best to speak with an experienced family law attorney.

When Does Child Support End for You? Find out with an Attorney's Help

Figuring out when child support ends is crucial. Judges are bound by state laws and it is best to seek legal advice for your specific situation. Get started today by reaching out to family law attorney Crystal Wright (404) 594-2143 | csw@crystalwrightlaw.com.

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