Ask a Lawyer: End of child support?

Question:

When my daughter turns 18, do I automatically stop paying child support, or do I need to go through the courts? She will be 18 in November and has graduated high school already (June 05). I’m expecting her mom to put up a fight and am not sure what to expect. Any suggestions would be great!

Answer:

I am not licensed in CA and therefore cannot answer your question specifically to the laws of that State.
Each State laws provide for different dates of emancipation of the child and therefore the end of child support. For example in Missouri child support ends at 18 unless the child is still in secondary school which can continue until 21. However, if the child attend post-secondary education and completes a required number of credit hours each semester the support can continue until age 22.
Finally, if a child is disabled and unable to support themselves support can continue indefinitely. If your child is emancipated by law in CA at age 18, I would suggest that you file a Petition to Emancipate.
In Missouri it is the custodial parents obligation to end the support and if they fail in that obligation they will usually be required to repay any support provided after the emancipation date with interest.
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