When Does a Child Support Obligation Stop?

When Does a Child Support Obligation Stop?

It’s important that both parents have clear expectations about the amount and payment of child support, and that includes when the duty to pay stops. Termination of child support is governed by state law. For that reason, it’s important to know what California law says on the subject.

The general rule is that the duty to pay child support ends when a child turns 18, the age of majority in California. However, there are many exceptions to this rule.

Perhaps the most notable exception applies when a child is 18 but is still attending high school and living with one of his or her parents. When this happens, child support must be paid until either the child turns 19 or the child graduates, whichever happens earlier. Cal. Fam. Code § 3901.

Other exceptions to the general rule apply when a child gets married, enters into a valid domestic partnership, joins the military, or becomes legally emancipated. In addition, a child support obligation ends when the child dies.

As you might expect, a parent has the power to agree to continue to pay child support even after he or she is no longer legally required to do so.

In some cases, the duty to pay child support may continue well into or throughout adulthood. In California, parents “have an equal responsibility to maintain, to the extent of their ability, a child of whatever age who is incapacitated from earning a living and without sufficient means.” In other words, if a child cannot be financially self-sufficient due to some physical or mental incapacitation, the parents must continue to support him or her if they are able to do so.

It’s important to know that California is not one of the states that requires the payment of child support throughout college. This is sometimes known as “college support.”

The best course of action as child support termination approaches is consultation with a knowledgeable California divorce attorney. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger  will make sure you successfully navigate the laws that apply in this area. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.