Ending Support When a Child Is Eighteen

In many instances, the child who turns 18 is considered an adult. For some, this child support age indicates an ending to many years of required financial child support payments. Before you go out to start celebrating, you should understand the law regarding child support and whether or not it actually ends when your child turns 18. In some states, the fact that a child is turning 18 does not signal the end to child support emancipation but may be an opportunity to petition the courts to reduce the payments being made from child support collection.

Some legal factors to consider:

  • If there are multiple children with only one child turning 18, the parent paying child support needs to refer to the wording contained in the court’s child support order. It is possible that child support can be reduced for the remaining child.
  • If child support is set at a fixed amount per child, when the oldest child turns 18, the amount for that child is reduced for the parent who is paying the support. This process repeats when the next child turns 18 and again until all children have reached age 18 at which time child support subsequently ends.
  • If there is only one child, the parent who is making child support payments may end those payments when the child turns 18 without having to get a child support attorney and go to court and petition for the payments to end. Some exceptions are those states which require completion of high school rather than reaching age 18.


Reducing Support

There are many different child support laws for governing the possibility of reducing child support. When a child reaches the age of majority, which is 18 in most states, normally child support payments are concluded because the child is no longer a minor. It is important to understand the laws of the applicable state where the child support is being paid. 

In some states child support and custody ends when the child graduates from high school, which may be younger than age 18 or older, depending on the child. Likewise, some state laws govern provisions for child support to continue to provide financial assistance for the child’s college education.

A reduction in child support is not automatic just because a child reaches 18. Some of the factors that the court will consider before making a reduction include:

  • Needs of the remaining children under the age of 18.
  • Current income of both parents.
  • Whether support was set at a lump sum. In some cases, the court rules that a lump sum amount will be paid for child support. When this happens, the court determines whether or not the amount will be reduced when one or more of several children turns 18.

Paying child support parents must pay,it is an obligation, not a choice. When this obligation has been fulfilled for the necessary number of years, the paying parent is entitled to end the support as indicated by applicable state laws.