child support how longA parent’s duty to pay child support ends when the first of the following events occurs:

  1. the child reaches the age of 19;
  2. the child reaches the age of 18 and has completed high school;
  3. the child reaches the age of 18 and is no longer in high school;
  4. the child gets married;
  5. the child becomes self-supporting;
  6. the child becomes emancipated; or
  7. the child dies.

A parent can agree to provide child support for longer than this time, for example until the child has found work or is no longer living at home.  This is however entirely voluntary.

A parent has a duty to provide child support for a disabled child who is unable to become self-supporting for as long as the disability lasts, even if this is well past the age of 19.  In part this is so the child is not unnecessarily dependent upon the government for his or her welfare.

Agreements as to When Child Support Ends

Even if child support is temporarily set at zero for whatever reason, the court always retains jurisdiction over child support until child support ends due to the occurrence of one of the events above.  This is because the court’s first and principal concern is to act in the best interests of children.

Therefore even if both parents agree to make child support end, if none of the events above have occurred, the agreement is not legally enforceable.  Either parent can ask the court at any time to reinstate child support.

Normally the court requires a significant change in circumstances before it will change the amount of court-ordered child support.  If however, the current amount of child support is zero or less than the guideline amount, no showing of a change in circumstances is required.

8. In short, the duty to pay child support will not end until the occurrence of one of the events at the beginning of this post.  However, parents can make an unenforceable agreement to have child support end before this time.

What if the payer dies?

9. What happens if the parent paying child support dies before the obligation is over?  Normally the payments of child support end unless the parent has made arrangements to continue the child support in his or her will or estate planning or by securing the payments with a life insurance policy.