Child Support: Age of Emancipation In Your State

child support emancipation By Matt Allen


Emancipation is the point at which a minor comes of age. Child support is typically paid until the child reaches the age of emancipation, which is usually 18, 19, or 21 years old depending on the state.

Keep in mind, the courts can in their discretion order support to be paid after reaching the age of majority, but only under limited circumstances, such as during post-majority education (college), or where the child is mentally or physically disabled.

Also, support does not automatically terminate in most states. To stop the collection, you may have to file a motion with the court that originally ordered the support. You and your attorney will be able to discuss the procedure required in your state.

Read the list below to find out the age of emancipation in your state.

Alabama: 19

Alaska: 18, or 19 if unmarried and pursuing a high school diploma.

Arizona: 18, unless the child is still in high school in which case child support would continue while the child continues to attend high school but not beyond the child’s 19th birthday.

Arkansas: 18, or when the child should have graduated from high school.

California: 18

Colorado: 19. If the child is still in high school, support may continue until the end of the month following graduation but not beyond age 21.

Connecticut: 19, or graduates high school, whichever occurs first.

Delaware: 18, or if the child is still in high school, until the child graduates or turns 19, whichever comes first.

Florida: 18

Georgia: 20, or the child dies, graduates from high school, marries, is emancipated, or joins the military, whichever event occurs first.

Hawaii: 19

Idaho: 18. If the child continues his/her high school education subsequent to reaching the age of 18, the court may order the continuation of support payments until the child discontinues his/her high school education or reaches the age of 19, whichever is sooner.

Illinois: Until the child graduates high school or reaches age 19, whichever occurs first.

Indiana: 21. However, in April 2012, the Indiana Legislature voted to lower the age of emancipation from 21 to 19, but exempts support for educational expenses. The new age of emancipation (19) takes effect July 1, 2012.

Iowa: 18, or 19 if the child is still in high school and is reasonably expected to graduate by age 19.

Kansas: 18, or until high school graduation if the child turns 18 while still in school.

Kentucky: 18

Louisiana: 18. Child support can be ordered for a child past the age of majority if the child is unmarried, a full time student in good standing in a secondary school, and dependent on either parent.

Maine: 18, unless the child is attending secondary school. Then until the child graduates, withdraws or is expelled from secondary school or reaches 19 years of age, whichever occurs first; becomes married; or becomes a member of the armed services.

Maryland: 18, unless the child has turned 18 and is enrolled in secondary school then it is 19 or until they are no longer enrolled, whichever occurs first.

Massachusetts: 18, or when the child turns 21 if the child is living with a parent, or when the child turns 23 if the child is enrolled in an educational program.

Michigan: 18, but support may be extended until age 19 1/2 while completing high school.

Minnesota: 18, or when the child turns 20 if still attending high school.

Mississippi: Emancipation occurs when the child: reaches 21; or marries; or discontinues full-time enrollment in school and obtains full-time employment prior to attaining the age of 21; or voluntarily moves from the home of the custodial parent or guardian and establishes independent living arrangements and obtains full-time employment prior to turning 21.

Missouri: 18 with some exceptions. Child support terminates at age 18 or if the child turns 18 while still in high school then it shall terminate upon graduation from high school or age 21, whichever comes first.

Montana: 19, or graduates from high school, whichever comes first.

Nebraska: 19

Nevada: 18, or 19 if the child is in high school and expects to graduate by age 19.

New Hampshire: 18 or when the child graduates high school, whichever is later.

New Jersey: 18, however emancipation is determined by the court on a case-by-case basis.

New Mexico: 18, may continue to 19 if the child is still in high school.

New York: 21

North Carolina: 18

North Dakota: 19, or when the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs first.

Ohio: 18, or as long as the child attends high school on a full-time basis or a court order requires the duty of support to continue. Unless specified in the court order, no duty of support extends beyond the child’s 19th birthday.

Oklahoma: 18

Oregon: Child support ends for any minor child who has become self-supporting, emancipated or married or who has ceased to attend school after becoming 18 years of age.

Pennsylvania: 18, or graduates from high school, which occurs later. 21, if deemed in special education.

Rhode Island: Child support can continue for children attending high school at the time of their 18th birthday and for 90 days after graduation, but in no case beyond their 19th birthday.

South Carolina: 18, or if the child is attending high school, then upon graduation or age 19, whichever occurs first.

South Dakota: 18, or until the child is 19 if the child is a full-time student in a secondary school.

Tennessee: 18, or when the child has graduated from high school during their normal and expected year of graduation, whichever occurs later.

Texas: 18, unless the child is in high school when he/she turns 18 then support continues until high school graduation.

Utah: 18, or when the child has graduated from high school during their normal and expected year of graduation, whichever occurs later.

Vermont: 18, or secondary school graduation, whichever occurs later.

Virginia: 18, or support may continue for any dependent child that is a full-time high school student and living in the home of the parent, until the child reaches age 19 or graduates from high school, whichever comes first.

Washington: 18, unless an administrative order is in force and the child is a full-time student expected to graduate before age 19.

Washington D.C.: 21

West Virginia: 18. Courts may order support extended up to 20 years as long as the child remains in secondary school and is making substantial progress toward a diploma.

Wisconsin: 18, unless the child is in high school then child support continues until age 19.

Wyoming: 18


Note: State laws are not static and subject to change. Do not take any actions based upon the information provided without checking your divorce decree or consulting an attorney licensed in your state.

Cordell & Cordell has divorce lawyers located nationwide.


Sources: DadsDivorce Divorce Laws By State and Support

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51 comments on “Child Support: Age of Emancipation In Your State

    Child Support
    What if my child lives in South Dakota and I live in Illinois. The mother has not made him go to school and apparantly the school got tired of him not attending and doing drug rehab and juvinile detention and put him on a “self study” program, so he will not graduate on time. He will turn 19 in October, do I have to pay until then?

    Does the Support order ruled in Indiana (until the age of 21) remain the same if the child hasn’t lived in Indiana for almost 10 years? Meaning, is it still ruled until the age of 21?

    I have been trying to research via web for some time now on this subject. My husband agreed to pay child child support if his daughter elected to attend college not to exceed 5 years and child reaches the age of 23yrs in his 2006 divorce agreement. His daughter is now 18 and we rarely speak with her (once her father remarried she elected to not be a part of the family). We think that she is attending a local Technical college, although we have never recieved any paperwork from her mother or herself to notify us of this, and she informed her father recently that she would be “taking a semester off” throughout the summer. I can’t locate information that confirms if it is legally ok to not pay while she’s not attending!

    SC or NY
    So I was divorced in SC while I was in the military back in the 90’s, as part of the separation agreement I pay child support. Since this time the mother and I have both ended up back in NY but we have never changed the support to NY courts as we have always just come to an agreement about the support $$ amount. My child turns 18 this year and graduates High school next spring. I know for SC its 18 and out of High School support can stop. I also heard once you complete a contract in one state you cannot have it moved to another state with better terms (Sort of a double jeopardy). My child is a slacker and does not plan on attending college once out of high school and plans to work full time learning a “trade”. I have no desire to continue to provide support so he can sit around and good off until he is 21 (age of emancipation in NY). Since the divorce and separation agreement are from SC will I be able to stop base on SC guidelines?

    If the original order came from SC…….Then you can stop paying at 18 and is out of high school ……In SC is stops at18 no matters what. ..Her or you living in NY doesn’t matter.

    Just received notification on the new Indiana age Emancipation. Do I still need to file for Emancipation or is this done automatically on July 1st? Beings that he is in college and turned 19 in December 2011, but only the “regular” support ordered, if its a “may still have to” who do I contact to find out and when would I self file? Thank You

    child support issue
    for past yr living arrangements have drastically changed with my kids. my eldest can no longer live with her mother due to spousal abuse and physical abuse/violence done to my child by her step father. my eldest refuses to live with me so she lives with her maternal aunt. My youngest now lives with me full time and sees her mother only few hours in a mos. I now pay my eldest directly the child support i feel she is entitled to. Their mother pays nothing to either childs living situation so my question is can i request support on their behalf from their mother? And since my oldest will graduate from high school at the age of 18 and has not lived with either parent for past year is that considered emancipated in Colorado? I she lives with neither parent and isnt considered emancipated shouldnt child support be paid by both parents?

    Just have a question concerning my husbands daughter. We live in Virginia, she will be 18 in March and she will graduate in May from high school. Will the child support automatically stop at 18 or when she graduates or do we need to file a motion with the courts???

    Virginia child support after age 18
    We were divorced in France. The court order specified that NCP is to pay support until the children finish their education and become gainfully employed. Ex-wife subsequently moved to Virginia which has reciprocity with France, so Virginia DCSE has been collecting support. Oldest child is about to turn 18 which is normally the date when support would stop. However ex-wife says that I will have to continue paying after age 18 because of the language in the court order. Is this right?

    Turns 18
    I have two kids and they took my daughter off because she turned 19 but told me that Colorado is a “fixed flat order state”. Meaning I pay the same a month until BOTH kids turn 19 Have u ever heard of that?

    Age of majority and age of emancipation
    Apparently, the age of emancipation in New York State differs from the age of majority. While the emancipation age is 21, the majority age is 18. This difference is confusing to non-custodial parents, because both are legal terms defining when a minor is no longer under the guardianship of a parent, and has become a full adult (whether or not they are regarded so intellectually, physically, or psychologically). I’ve been frustrated by these terms, because New York holds to both terms, yet clearly favors the age of emancipation when it comes to child custody and support in court.

    ORF/OIF Veteran Mother paying child support to father in New York City
    My son lived in NY and turned 18, he graduated high school and joined the military. I am stil paying child support. How can I terminate the child support since he is in the military? His father has not notified the court and I live in a different state.

    My son is 22 1/2 he has been in and out of college since 17. Finally I thought he graduated. But no he again has failed another class so he has one more class to complete his degree.
    Can I stop child support now that he is not a full time student. (He dropped out before and I didn’t go back)

    Age of Emancipation / Majority…
    I live in Alabama, my son will be 19 in November and he will graduate in May from high school in Texas. No college plans. Will the child support automatically stop at 19 or when he graduates or do I need to file a motion with the Hawaii courts??? Thank you!

    childs a adult
    My husbans ex did not want his help he did not get that in writing. She went to the state for help, state went after him for child sapport so now hes in rears. His daughter is 25 and they have never seen or talked he has sent cards. With her age does he still have to pay the rears. This is a arizona distric.

    Child Support Question
    My step son turned 18 in Feb. of 2012, however he did not graduate high school so we had to continue paying child support until 19, graduation, or droped out of school which ever one came first. However, he was in a major accident at the age of 18 that left him disabled. Of course he was not able to go back to school to finish and is being cared for 24/7 in a hospital for therapy. Now his mother wants us to continue paying child support for the rest of his life. Is this possible. We all live in the state of New Mexico.

    Divorce was filed in New Jersey but my child has been residing in Pennsylvania since 2004. He will be 18 in Feb and graduating HS this June. Is the emancipation of child support applies in which state, NJ or PA?

    Child Support
    I have an 18 year that has never had a stable residence as a result she was held back twice. My question is my child support order has been terminated in Illinois since 12/12. Now Texas is sending me letters stating I owe back child support. I have never missed a payment since she was 6 years old. Texas is also threatening to with hold my taxes. What can I do about this? Can I sue the Child Support Unit in Texas?

    Drop out taking classes in sc
    Huge question. My daughter dropped out if high school in 11th grade and is now taking classes through online high school diploma program. She is now extending her graduation date 3 more years. What is the policy in South Carolina for this scenario? I had child support terminated last week since she turned 18 at the end of 2012 but the mother raised Cain and said since she is taking these classes I should still pay. We go to court in march. Where can I find out if taking classes constitutes eligibility in South Carolina?

    Lower Age, 15 to 19, on Children Emancipation
    Children at age 15 and up should be able to chose to be emancipated from their parents, under reasonable circumstances. Example, if the teen 15 to 19 of age is being abused by the parent/s, they should have the right to be emancipated from them for the teen’s safety and protection to continue him/hers healthy young life.

    child support age 18
    I have a daughter who is enrolled in alternative high school,She is 18 and is going to be 19 in June She is only required to attend 5 hours a week to be considered full time. The reason why she is still in high school is becaus she didnt attend school regularly and she is still 11 credits short.She has been in truancy court for failure to attend class. Do I have a right to modify this since I am still paying the full amount becasue she didnt attend school when she was suppose to my ex-wife already did and modification 3 years ago,to reflect the amount now. I also have been remarried and have another son who will be 14 in July this is in washington state.

    Totally confused
    I divorced in NV, my son and daughter (17 and 12) live in OH and I live in VA. I’ve been paying child support (not court ordered) since my divorce in 2003. I remarried in 2012. My ex now wants to file for child support in VA (where I live). She claims I’ve never given her a dime. I’ve paid her $1000.00 a month and paid all of my kids needs (school lunches, fees, clothes, medical, dental, cell phones, etc). I like that I will be paying the state for now on and not her; but can she receive money that I have already given her just because it was never court ordered?

    I have never been allowed to be a part of my child life because I did not have the money to pay a lawyer for visitation. Now the child is 18 and pregnant. I just found out I have to continue to pay support until she is 19. Is it true in the state of Alabama that support stops if the child getting the support becomes pregnant?

    My husbands child support was established in Wyoming but his son lives with his mom in Colorado. He will be 18 next March. Do we follow Wyoming law? He will not graduate because she “home schooled” him for two years and he is only in the 11th grade now. She has said she will “home school” him again so that he is in school longer. Can anyone help me answer this question? Wyoming terminates at 18, we have never missed a payment or been behind, but she is very vindictive and wants to make it last as long as possible.

    My daughter is a senior in high school. She turns 18 in October. She will graduate early (January 2014). Will I have to continue to pay support for her until May of 2014 (end of school year)? I am in ND.

    My child was having difficulty in our High school, so we chose to take him out and the school suggested Ashworth college James Madison High school as a option to finish his high school diploma. Does his father have to continue paying child support until he has completed all the courses. Even tho he has turned 18? Please advise

    My husband emancipated his daughter when she was 16 because her stepfather was physically and verbally abusive. She turned 18 in february this year. he continued to pay child support up until May when he lost his job. His ex wife is pressing for the child support even though she has not lived with her in two years. We just got his license reinstated not that long ago and now it has been suspended again. We cannot afford an attorney at this time do to my husband being unemployed. What can we do?

    I will be 18 on august 11th and i am wanting to move out now but my parents might not allow me to. My step father raped me when i was little and my mother didnt care. My biological father pays child support on me and i dont want my mother to get the child support. i am mentally disabled. need help!

    Child support
    My husband has a child and she turns 18 in two months. The mother is now threatening to do a remodification. She graduated from highschool last month, but turns 18 in August. Is he obligated to pay support after August?

    19 with two jobs
    My son lives with his mom. He has two jobs. The order is in DC. Why am I still paying child support

    Two States
    My son was emancipated in PA @ 18. Ex wife moved to NY but son stayed in PA. Now Son claims to live in NY as a minor so ex can collect more child support. Is this legal?

    Not seeing children
    I have not seen my children for over here years…. I have three children. I have not spoken with any of them, have received a VERY occasional text response from two of the three (only if they decide to respond to a specific question.. Not a word from the 3rd.

    The children are currently 19,17,15. Al are in school..the 19 is a sophomore in college. They live with their mother in NY.

    I have tried for several years to see them. I call and text constantly. I went to court to request my visitation be upheld (versus the mother saying she can not make the kids see me, even on designated visitation dates etc.). The court agreed they can not be forced to see me and the judge said she would. to make them or make my ex wife make them.

    After several years, I decided to move to FL (I could no longer afford to pay support and My own bills).

    I am at my wits end….. I am not poor but far from rich. I pay 100% of my support on time. I have just had enough of paying for children I never see or hear from and who 100% disrespect me.

    My questions:

    How do I file to emancipate my children?

    Must I file in NY (the divorce was in NY) or can I file from FL where I now live ?
    Thank you….

    If my husband is paying child support and his son has moved in with us how do we go about stopping child support if she doesn’t want to cooperate?

    My daughters turned 18 a few months ago this year, they live out of state where the divorce and child support agreements were filed. The kids won’t graduate high school until Jun 2015. Over the past few months just before they had their 18th birthday, my ex started to pull her typical maniacal vindictive stunts. Unbeknownst to me and all of the sudden there’s a huge college expense that I’m expected to pay half for. However, in my concern about this new expense dropped on my lap I got upset and responded that I just don’t have that kind of money to spend at her whim and leisure. Then after she had me worked up over this new surprise she finally discloses that my kid got a scholarship; granted it doesn’t pay for all expenses, but I would have never known about. Now I am slapped with fees I had no idea about and that were never discussed. She now is expecting me to pay for 1/2 of these costs incurred that I had no information about, or no communications. How is this fair for me to keep getting slammed with new expenses that I am not privileged too? My ex is very untrustworthy and conniving, it seems hopeless. Do I need an attorney?

    what if a parent is divorced and pays child support on a child that is disabled? I know the parent would pay until he/she is done school but what about beyond that because they are disabled?

    My dad hasnt paid child-support since i was 7 yrs old. My mom filed child supoort in New jersey. But when i was 8 we moved to pennsylavnia because my dad stopped paying-he moved to mexico.I am currently 17 and i know where he lives (north carolina-been living there for 5 yrs now) i want to take him to court and claim the money because i need the money for college. How can i do this ? I cant affored a lawyer ?? Please help!!

    i need help im 15 and i live in south carolina and im having major problems with my mother and father. my mother has been telling me i was a whore and bitch ect and she left me at my grandperants house to live for now and she said i wasnt allowed back but shes calling a harrassing me every day and i take it anymore its becoming to much and she is trying to keep from going to school and see my friends and she doesnt trust me because i was late to the car and didnt call her but when i tried to call her from the school it wouldnt work and i sent multiple txts and it still wouldnt work and she didnt believe me and told me to shut the fuck up and then kicked me out of the car and told me to get lost and kicked my boyfriend out of the (ive been with him for a year and a half and they have never had a problem with him) car and left him in middle of the night on the side of the road and picked me back up and the only reason she let him out was because she told me all i was was a bitch and a whore and he told her she was wrong and she took it too far and then she went to my nanas house (her mother they dont get along very well) and she had a blast out sort of thing and wouldnt listen and said she didnt want me back to find somewhere for me to go i asked my papa if i could stay and he let me and then when they tried to get me in school because she took me out of my school. the school wouldnt let me come so i wouldnt fail and they said i needed to finish the year out at my school i was at but my mother didnt want me there because of my boyfriend and his oppion he gave her that night and then she said i threatened to kill my family and my boyfriends family and myself but i never said that ever i barely can hurt a fly and then we got her to sign a paper for me to go to school and so we got me back in my school and she called all that day cussing us out for putting me there and saying how she had no choice in what to do and that she was threatened and scared for her wellbeing and told my grandparents that i have mental issues and told my boyfriends parents that i have problems with my personality but if u ask anyone at school or my counciler they say im fine and that my mom is the one with the issues and i just need to know how to make it to where she cant have any rights to me and that she cant see me and my grandparent s said they would be glad to take custody of me for good to stop this

    my son will be 21 years old I live in New York State it’s his third year in college do I still have to pay child support to the mother where can I pay him directly or can I stop paying child support altogether please help

    I go to court again for a support issue. Our agreement states ex husband will pay for college tuition but actually because I am very poor, I have been able to get alot of financial aid for him. The ex went to court and terminated cs because son took a semester off and then went back the following, he has one more semester of college to complete 2 BA’s.
    Son was kept back from school in kindergarten, hence he started elementary school as a 7 year old which means he would not have been able to finish college by age 23 anyway. I am going this week to file motions as pro se (I am indigent) 1) for alimony; I should have gotten 14.64 years based on length of marriage and only got 5. 2) I am going to as the judge to modify her judgment concerning emmancipation as not only is son still my dependent for college (home address etc), but ex spouse has been paying him support directly…so he is NOT emmancipated, correct?

    I live in South Carolina and i was never ordered to pay child support! she wouldn’t let me have a paternity test! She and the Baby moved to Texas! Now the Girl age 18 wants to find out if i am her biological father! I have agreed to take a DNA test if i am proven to be the father do i have to pay back child support???

    I got 3 kids and my wife don’t work how much will it cost me in child support and we r married for 13 yrs but just renting not buying

    I have 2 boys in the state of Minnesota. My oldest will be turning 18 this yr.According to our divorce decree it states emanicipation of a child at the age of 18 or graduated whichever comes FIRST but he actually doesn’t graduate till nxt yr 19.So I have 3 questions. .1 will the courts still have me continue to pay child support because he is not yet graduated even though it’s stated in our divorce decree whichever comes 1st? ..2nd If indeed he is emancipated will my child support be lowered then? 3rd My son is now under the care of a foster home due to behavioral issues an getting in trouble with the law so will they continue to have me pay child support for him due to him being under the care of the state now?

    My husband has two children 15 & 18. Oldest turned 18 Aug of 2015, husband called today to update his information due to landing a new job and also to inquire why he was still paying child support for his oldest child because per VA law when the child has turned 18 and graduates high school support by the non custodial parent will stop. But he was told that his court order States that the would have to continue to provide support until both children are over the age of 18. Has anyone else on VA experienced this

    Child support agencies must follow the provisions outlined in a parties’ court order. In most states, if the order doesn’t specify a “per child” amount or have a provision that support decreases then the oldest child turns 18, then support would continue, unchanged, until the youngest child turns 18. The father of the children can always seek legal advice on how to modify the order.

    Are you sure your Decree states “first”? Because if your Decree states “whichever comes first”, basically it’s saying that if a child graduates at 17, they’re emancipated (?) and that’s contradictory to MN emancipation laws which states the definition of a child is “under 18”.

    What if I live in Kansas with my dad and my mom lives in Nebraska paying child support. I want to move out because I am 18 but my dad tells me since my mom can pay child support on me until im 19, he has custody until i’m 19. but i live in kansas and then age of majority is 18. I think he is just saying this so he can still get the money. Can i move out legally after i graduate in may?

    My understanding is if you’re a permanent resident of Kansas (not just visiting), you would follow Kansas emancipation laws. A child support order is for child support only. It can’t change the emancipation laws of another state/jurisdiction. You can always talk to someone at a free legal clinic for more information.

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