If you are ordered to pay child support in your divorce, your first question may very well be how long you need to pay it. Is this something you have to work through for the next year, for the next decade or forever? You have to know what type of financial impact you're looking at.
With that in mind, let's take a look at four reasons that child support ends. You'll likely need to pay up until this point.
1. A court emancipates the child, even though he or she is still under 18. In some cases, a minor who can support themselves can ask for emancipation to remove parental authority, and this can also remove your obligation to pay.
2. The child turns 18 and is not a minor any longer. This is when the majority of support obligations come to an end. However, there are some exceptions. For instance, if the child has special needs, you may need to continue paying since the child cannot support themselves.
3. A court terminates your parental rights. This can happen through a variety of legal processes, such as adoption. If you sign away your rights and allow someone else to adopt the child, you no longer have to pay to support that child.
4. Your child joins the military and becomes an active-duty member of the armed forces. This often happens at or after age 18 anyway, but it is worth note for special situations.
All told, it is very important to understand your child support obligations, your legal rights and what steps you need to take to comply with the order.