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When Does Child Support End?

By Evy L. Luckett

Missouri parents of children under 18 expect to either pay or receive child support when they split up. But does the obligation always end at age 18? Here are a few tips on when child support can end.

What happens if my child doesn’t go to college?

The child support obligation is terminated. If child support is paid through the Family Support Division, the paying parent will likely need to file an Affidavit of Termination with the court or report a change to the Family Support Division to ensure termination of their enforcement of the order.

What happens if my child takes a gap year?

Child support will terminate except in certain special situations. If the child has mental health issues, physical illness, or disability preventing them from attending college and you have evidence to back these claims, then support will not be terminated. If the child simply wants to take a year off to travel the world before starting college, the child support obligation will terminate.

What happens if my child gets married?

The child will be considered emancipated and child support will terminate regardless of the child’s age or educational status.

What happens if my child joins the military?

Children who join the military are considered emancipated for child support purposes, even if they attend a collegiate military academy.

What happens if my child doesn’t take 12 credit hours?

Generally, while attending college, a child must take at least 12 credit hours to allow for the continuation of child support. However, in limited situations, a child taking less may still be eligible. For example, if your child has a medical diagnosis, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, preventing them from successful competition of 12 credit hours then the court is likely to find child support is not terminated.

What happens if my child goes to a trade school for a year?

A trade school is considered “higher education” for child support purposes. This means that as long as your child enrolls by October 1st after high school graduation and follows all other requirements under the statute then the child support obligation will continue.

What happens if I relocate from Missouri to a state in which child support ends at an age different than in Missouri?

The state law where your original judgment was entered always controls when support ends. For example, if a parent moves from Missouri to Hawaii, where support ends at age 23, Missouri’s law will control. If a judgment was entered in Missouri and the parent moves to Illinois, which ends support at high school or age 19, Missouri’s support statute will still control.

We suggest reviewing your parenting plan and consulting with a Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal family law attorney to see how this may affect you and your child.


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