When parents make a custody agreement or go to court for custody, they or the court determine who will be the child’s primary custodial parent, while the other parent will be responsible for paying child support. Although the monthly payments cover the child's basic needs (e.g., food, shelter, clothing, medical care, education, etc.), paying child support for years and years can take a costly toll on the noncustodial parent’s finances.
It is not uncommon for the paying parent—known as the obligator—to wonder when child support payments must end. In Texas, the obligation to pay child support typically ends when the child reaches 18 years old or graduates high school, whichever occurs later. Child support also terminates upon the death of the child support is paid for, should that misfortune occur.
Additionally, child support can end before a child turns 18 years old by becoming legally emancipated, which means the minor’s parents will no longer have any legal duty to supervise their child. A minor can be emancipated when he/she reaches 16 or 17 by obtaining “the removal of the disabilities of minority” through a court order, getting married, or enlisting in the U.S. military.
On the other hand, it is possible that child support payments continue into adulthood. For example, if a child is diagnosed with a physical or mental disability and still needs medical care after turning 18, then child support can continue indefinitely. Common factors the court will consider include current and future medical expenses, each parent’s finances and ability to provide such care, and any local, state, or federal programs that may provide added assistance to support the child’s medical needs.
Remember, child support does not automatically end or get reduced in Texas. When your child turns 18 or graduates high school and none of the other exceptions mentioned above apply, you need to file a Petition to Terminate Withholding for Child Support in the same case as the original order.
Likewise, if one of a parent’s children ceases being eligible for child support, the obligor parent will need to file a court petition to modify the child support to have the child support income withholding order lowered in compliance with the step-down provision in the final order if you have a step-down provision.
Ensure you file the request 60 days before the last scheduled payment. However, even if your obligation is scheduled to cease, if you owe back child support payments, you are still obligated to pay off what you owe.
If you are interested in modifying or terminating child support in McKinney or within the surrounding area, call Camille Borg Law PLLC at (469) 646-7763 or fill out our online contact form today to discuss your case with our experienced family law attorney!