How Long Does Child Support Last?

Child support is the amount of money the non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent to help cover living expenses for their child or children. This money goes towards food, housing, education, medical expenses, and other activities. How long is the paying parent required to pay child support? It will depend upon the state in which you live. Most states say child support ends at the time the child turns 18 years old, marries, leaves for college, or dies. Other states permit the support to continue after the child turns 18 under certain circumstances; for example, the child is still in high school and living at home or if the child has special needs.

It is important for both the paying parent and the receiving parent to understand when the child support stops, as you may have to take certain steps in order to terminate the support or if you need the support to continue past 18 years old. If you do not take the required steps you may find yourself making more payments than you were legally required to make, or you may stop getting the child support when you really need it.

At What Age Do You Stop Paying Child Support?

The “age of majority” is the age the state says the child is no longer a minor and can act on their own behalf when making legal decisions. Consult with a family law attorney that handles child support issues to discuss your state’s laws. 

The age of majority in most states is 18 years old or when the child graduates from high school, whichever comes first. Again, check with a family law attorney to see what the law says in your state.


A minor that becomes emancipated through the court is claiming to be self-supporting. Teens choose emancipation if they get married as a minor, join the military, leave home, or become financially independent. In these cases, the parent is no longer required to pay child support.

Child Support Through College

If when the parents were together, they were in agreement that a college education was the plan for their child or children, then a provision may be included in the divorce settlement that states the child support will continue to be paid to help finance secondary education costs.

Special Needs Support

A child with special needs may need additional support beyond the age of majority. A parent is usually permitted to continue to receive support beyond the age of 18 to help take care of the special needs child.

How to End Child Support

The parent responsible for making child support payments must ask for the support payments to cease once their child reaches the state’s age of majority, or if their child declares emancipation from his or her parents. 

It is important to know exactly when the child supports ends, for both the paying parent and the parent receiving the support. It is wise to seek the assistance of a lawyer, like a divorce lawyer in Gig Harbor, WA from Robinson & Hadeed, today.