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Time limits of child support

When a child reaches the age of 18, child support ends in most states. In New York, however, the cut-off age -- also known as the age of majority -- for child support payments is 21. The age of majority is the established legal age in state law when a child is no longer considered a minor and is capable of making some legal decisions by him or herself. In addition, a court may even direct a parent to contribute to the child's education.

Another factor that affects how long child support payments continue is when the child becomes emancipated. This term refers to a process in a family court by which the minor supports him or herself, no longer requiring the parents' financial support. Sometimes, this may occur before the minor reaches the age of majority, but it can also occur when he or she gets married, leaves home, joins the military or simply becomes economically independent.

There are certain situations in which courts will make exceptions for the cut-off of child support payments. One of the most common is for parents who care for a child who is either disabled or has special needs. As courts often consider disability in regards to economic hardship, the parent may be able to receive child support past the age of majority in order to care for the disabled or child with special needs. 

Payments of child support do not run out automatically. Rather, the parent who has the obligation to make the payments must submit a request for that obligation to end, usually when the child has reached the age of majority or the minor has become emancipated. New York parents can learn about when their obligation to continue paying child support will end by contacting the state's child support agency. Others choose to consult an experienced family law attorney in order to establish their specific responsibilities and rights.

Source: FindLaw, "When does child support end?", Accessed on Dec. 21, 2015

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