When Does My Child Support Obligation End?

Whenever a parent is required to pay child support for one or more children, it is only natural that they will wonder how far into the future that obligation extends. In Mississippi, the short answer to that question is that a parent’s child support obligation ends upon a child’s emancipation.

There is not a one-size-fits-all definition for emancipation. Two common circumstances under which a Mississippi child becomes emancipated from his or her parents are reaching the age of twenty one or getting married. There are also other situations in which a child will be considered to be emancipated. For example, if a child under twenty one years of age voluntarily moves out of their parent’s home and into an independent living situation, the child may be found to be emancipated and the parent who pays child support may be able to stop doing so.

There are even more ways that children become emancipated. If your child joins the military, he or she is considered to be emancipated. Likewise, young adults become emancipated when they live with another person without the approval of their non-custodial parent. Also, unless your child is disabled, if they stop attending school on a full-time basis after their eighteenth birthday, they are emancipated. This scenario applies whether or not they work full time after leaving school. A felony conviction which results in incarceration also renders a young person emancipated.

As you can see from the variety of situations that have been described, emancipation can occur in many ways. The situations described above are examples, and there could be other, similar situations which would also result in a child being emancipated, and their parent’s child support obligation being terminated, before they attain the age of twenty one. The best way to find out whether a specific situation in your family has resulted or is likely to result in one or more of your children being emancipated is to speak with a Mississippi Family Law Attorney.

It is essential that parents with children who have undertaken activities which could qualify them as emancipated understand that they do not get to decide on their own whether or not their child is emancipated. If you believe that one or more of your children should be considered to be emancipated, you must petition the court for a modification of your child support order. If the court does find that your child is in fact emancipated, it will issue an order describing the change in your child support obligation.

Also, a finding that one or more of your children are emancipated applies only to child support payments which would have been due in the future. If you are behind on your child support payments, you are still responsible for paying any arrearages. The best way to prevent incurring child support arrearages is to take prompt action to modify your child support obligation if your income changes and you begin to have trouble paying the amount which is required of you by your current child support order. A Mississippi Family Law Attorney can help you to petition the court for a modification of your child support if your income has changed and you are having difficulty meeting your current child support obligation.

Whether your child support question involves emancipation, modification due to a change in income, or some other issue, a Mississippi Divorce Attorney can help you to find the answers that you need. Matthew S. Poole is a renowned family law attorney in Mississippi, with a reputation for exceptional legal service.  Call Matthew S. Poole today, at (601) 573-7429, to schedule you free initial consultation.