Emancipation and Child Support

What Emancipation Means and How It Affects Child Support

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What Does Emancipation Mean and How Does It Affect Child Support?

Generally, when a child reaches the age of majority — age 18, or 21 for some states — the child is considered emancipated, meaning a parent no longer has the obligation to provide child support for the child. However, there are times when a child is emancipated before the age of majority. In such cases, parents may wonder how the emancipation impacts child support payments.

Here is some information about what happens to child support payments when a child is emancipated:

Reasons Why a Child Would be Emancipated

Emancipation of a minor occurs when a child is freed from the care of a parent. Essentially, the parent no longer has responsibility for the child. A child may self-emancipate for any of the following reasons:

  • Marriage
  • Military service
  • Complete abandonment of the parental home
  • Economic independence

As long as a child is still in the care and custody of a parent, it's fair to say that it's impossible for a child to be emancipated. Therefore, parents have the obligation to continue to support a child until the child reaches the age of majority. A parent's obligation to continue to provide child support payments will continue until the child reaches the age of majority.

Child Support Payments Beyond Emancipation

It's possible that parents may be obligated to continue child support payments beyond the age of majority.

A court may order a parent to continue child support payments beyond emancipation for the following reasons:

  • Special needs of the child: A court may order a parent to continue support payments for an adult child with special needs.
  • The divorce of a minor child: Although a child may marry, some courts have found that if the child divorces and needs care and custody, the child may still be entitled to child support.

    Termination of Child Support Payments After Emancipation

    Child support payments are not automatically terminated after a child is emancipated. A child support obligor will have to request for child support payments to be terminated after the child reaches the age of majority or a minor child is emancipated. For more information about child support payments when a child is emancipated, speak with a qualified attorney in your state.