Child Support Laws: What Qualifies As Emancipation?

mens divorce lawyer William BackerQuestion:

My question regards child support laws and when my child is considered emancipated.

My son just graduated from high school at the age of 20 due to his poor grades and lack of attendance.

I thought I would be done paying child support at this point, but I’ve heard that I have to wait until October 1 to request a child support termination because he may enroll in college. It’s my understanding that if he enrolls in college, I will have to continue paying until he turns 21.

Is this true?


I am only licensed to practice law in Missouri so I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce in your state. I can give general divorce help for men, though.

In my state, parent’s obligation to make child support payments continues until one of the following happens:

1.) the child dies;

2.) the child gets married;

3.) the child enters active duty in the military;

4.) the child becomes self-supporting, provided that the custodial parent relinquishes the child from her parental control;

5.) the child reaches age 18, unless the child is enrolled in and attending a secondary school program of instruction, then the support obligation continues if the child continues to attend and progresses toward completion of the program, until the child completes such program or reaches age 21, whichever first occurs.  If the child is enrolled in an institution of vocational or higher education not later than October 1 following graduation from secondary school or completion of a G.E.D., the child must satisfactorily complete at least 12 credit hours each semester, then the support obligation continues as long as the child provides a transcript or other official record showing the courses the child is enrolled in and has completed for each semester.

6.) the child reaches age 21 unless the provisions of the child support order specifically extend the parental support order past the child’s 21st birthday (for reasons of physical or mental incapacity).

Your support obligation continues until the child turns age eighteen, unless he is still in school. If he graduates from high school and has not reached age 21, you have to wait until October 1 to see if he enrolls in a vocational school or college.

If he does not, then you should request an order from the court terminating your child support obligation.

If he does enroll and continues to go to school for at least 12 credit hours each semester and provides documentation of his enrollment and satisfactory completion of the courses, your child support will continue until he turns 21.

Remember, I have only provided you with general information, not legal advice on divorce.

To schedule an appointment with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including William F. Backer, an Associate Attorney in the Arnold, Missouri office, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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2 comments on “Child Support Laws: What Qualifies As Emancipation?

    Age of Emancipation In Your State
    As indicated in the article and all Ask a Lawyer articles, the information provided is only based on the attorney’s knowledge of the state he/she is licensed in. In this instance, as the attorney said, he can only provide information on how Missouri (the state he is licensed in) handles the situation as described in the question, and the information provided is not inaccurate based on Missouri laws. Obviously you should always consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction. For more information on the age of emancipation in your state, read this article:

    Inaccurate comments on subject
    Regarding this particular article, I believe his “general” guidelines are far from accurate. Those maybe general guidelines for the state of Missouri as they closely mirror the same for Mississippi.

    For those states who’s legal age of emancipation is 21, the college issue factors in, but for those that it ends at 18, secondary education does not have anything to do with it…I would highly recommend anyone reading this article to check their state laws regarding this and not use this as “general” advice. It’s misleading.

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