When Does Child Support End?

On average, the typical non-custodial parent pays around $500 in child support each month. This money can help to provide food, shelter, and other essentials for a child, but it can also be a significant financial burden. To reach a child support arrangement that works for both parents, it’s helpful to understand how long the typical arrangement lasts.

Most Child Support Lasts Until the Child Reaches a Certain Age

Child support lasts until the child is an adult. Once you start paying for child support, you usually need to keep paying until the child reaches the age of maturity. You cannot stop paying because your ex got remarried, you were fired from your job, or you got custody of the child. You can petition the court to adjust your amount of child support, but you cannot quit paying altogether until the child is an adult.

New Jersey child support is a little different than some other states. Instead of ending as soon as the child turns 18, it stops when the child is no longer 18. This means that you have to keep paying child support until your child’s 19th birthday. New Jersey enacted this rule because the government maintains that most children are not ready to stop all parental support at the age of 18.

Reasons Child Support Might Last Longer Than Usual

In some cases and with extenuating circumstances, child support can last past the age of 19. The most common reason to keep child support is if the child is still in high school. Support can also last longer if the child is in a post-secondary education, like college or trade school, and is attending full time. Another reason to extend child support is if the child has a physical or mental disability that has affected them since before they were 19. This disability doesn’t have to completely incapacitate the child, but it must cause challenges that necessitate further support.

In all these cases, child support is not extended automatically. You and your New Jersey family law attorney will need to petition the court and ask for child support to last longer. Even if your petition is granted, child support will end once the child reaches age 23. It is possible for a parent to still have to pay support for an adult child if the child is severely mentally or physically disabled and cannot care for themselves. However, this is a separate type of support that has to be arranged outside of the child support system.

Reasons You Might Be Able to Terminate Child Support Earlier

Almost all parents need to pay child support at least until their child turns 19. However, there are a few specific circumstances in which child support stops early. First of all, you no longer have to pay child support if you terminate your parental rights and if someone else adopts your child. You cannot just terminate your rights and stop payments automatically, though. You only quit paying support once someone else adopts the child and takes over financial responsibilities for the child.

A parent’s obligation to pay support also ends automatically when a child emancipates themselves from the parent. If the child joins the military or gets married, child support also automatically ends. In cases where the arrangement is supposed to last past the age of 19, the paying parent can talk to a lawyer about how to end child support. This individual will need to petition the court to end payments if he or she feels that the extenuating circumstances no longer matter.

Once you agree to a child support arrangement, you are committed to sending or receiving a certain amount of money. Any time you want to change the arrangement, you need to work with a New Jersey family law attorney and petition the court. If you are not happy with your current child support order, Morgenstern & Rochester may be able to help. Our Cherry Hill team can assist you with a variety of family law matters, including divorce, mediation, child support, and custody. Call 856-489-6200, or fill out our contact form to learn more.