In the State of Missouri child support ends at 18. However, when a child reaches age eighteen and the child is enrolled in and attending a secondary school program of instruction, the parental support (child support) obligation shall continue until completion of said program or secondary school or the child reaches age 21, whichever occurs first. Therefore for those parents who have a child attending college following their high school graduation, their obligation will continue past age eighteen. However, in most cases that child support will end at age 21, if not sooner.
It is important to note that this was changed several years ago, when the legislature modified the end date from age 22 to age 21.
In order for the child to remain eligible for child support however, it is important to remember the following must occur:
1. At the beginning of each semester, the child shall submit to each parent a transcript or similar official document provided by the institution of vocational or higher learning which includes the courses the child is enrolled in and has completed for each term;
2. Upon request for notification of grades, the child must submit to each parent a transcript at the end of each semester which includes the grades and credits received for all courses;
3. The child must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours each regular term.
A child’s failure to do any of these things could jeopardize child support payments. It is incumbent on the parent receiving support to remind the child of his or her obligation to ensure that this occurs. This is simple: the child needs to provide the classes registered and taken and the grades. The 12-credit hour requirement is generally met by taking 4 classes per semester, as this is considered a full-time course load.
In cases where items 1, 2, or 3 above are not complied with, you should talk to your attorney about possible recourse, which includes emancipation or termination of the child support (meaning the child support obligation will end), or abatement (no payment of child support during the time period the child was not in compliance).
In each instance, it is important for you to talk with your attorney to determine what your obligations for child support are and how they continue in college.