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Termination of child support

Individuals in Missouri who pay or receive child support may wonder when that obligation will end. Several factors come into play regarding the termination of child support. In most cases, child support terminates when the child reaches 18. However, there are several exceptions.

Child support may terminate early if a child marries, becomes emancipated or joins the military in active duty. Child support may also be extended past the age of 18 in a few cases. If the child is attending secondary school or has physical or mental conditions that require further support, the support will be extended to the age of 21. In a few cases, the child support may go past the age of 21 if the child is physically or mentally incapacitated.

There are several ways to terminate child support. The child's guardians may agree on termination if the child is 21 and no longer requires support or if the child becomes emancipated. In the latter case, there are still procedures that must be followed. Either the parent paying support has to file a statement with the Missouri Family Support Division or the court stating that the child is emancipated and the parent requiring support has 30 days to respond, or the parent who is paid support files with the court or FSD that the child is emancipated. If the parents dispute over whether the child is emancipated, there must be a hearing in court or with the FSD.

These scenarios might play out in a number of ways. For example, if a 17-year-old married, parents would no longer be responsible for child support. On the other hand, if the birthday of an 18-year-old falls during the final year of high school, child support would continue as long as that child is still in high school.

Source: The Missouri Bar, "Child Support in Missouri", August 07, 2014

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