Kevin Qualls Family Law
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When will my child support obligation end?

As its name implies, in California, child support is for the benefit of minor children who still need financial help from their parents. This means that when a child reaches the age of adulthood, he or she in theory no longer needs support and thus neither parent has any further obligation to pay.

In practice, however, the parent who is actually writing the check every week or month is the one who notices the benefit. Still, they have the option of asking for relief from a child support order for each child as the child hits his or her 18th birthday. If the child has opted to stay in high school in order to graduate, the duty to support will continue until the child turns 19.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule. For one, parents can always sign an agreement to continue supporting the child, although it may be pretty easy to get out of such an agreement at a later time.

Moreover, a court can order continued support in the event the parents' child is disabled and, even though he or she is legally an adult in terms of age, he or she cannot maintain a minimal standard of living independently.

Finally, although technically not child support, a California court can also consider ordering that parents pay college expenses for their children, even if they are legal adults.

On the other hand, support can end earlier if a child gets married or enters in to military service. In some cases, a court may legally emancipate a child.

The important thing to remember is not to take matters in to one's own hands when it comes to deciding whether or not to pay support. If a parent feels that a child now has no legal right to child support, it is best to discuss such matters with an attorney to make sure that things are handled appropriately in the eyes of the law.

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