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How Long Does a Parent Have to Pay Child Support?

Child support is a topic that is very emotional in nature. Many problems can arise as well as conflicts between parents because of the issue of child support. Some parents who are supposed to pay child support do not pay while others have financial difficulties that make it impossible for them to pay.

There are the times however when there is a good outcome because the parent who is supposed to pay child support does so, thus benefiting the child. This helps to deflect some of the changes in lifestyle and some of the emotional pain that accompanies divorce.

A parent must continue to pay child support for a biological and/or adoptive child until

  • A child reaches what is deemed the age of majority. If the child has special needs this could stretch the time out even longer.
  • The age of majority is considered to be the “threshold of adulthood” and is defined as the “chronological moment when children legally assume majority control over their persons and their actions and decisions.
  • In the United States the age of majority varies by state, territory and commonwealth jurisdiction but in most states it is 18 years of age (examples include Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Vermont).

Another instance when a parent must continue to pay child support is until his or her rights and responsibilities as a parent are terminated, such as if a child was adopted.

If a child has been taken from the parent by the courts, then the parent is not required to pay child support.

Child support obligations often go hand in hand with divorce proceedings. In most instances if one parent is given sole custody of a child it is the responsibility of the other parent to make child support payments. The custodial parent also has a responsibility to take care of a child financially and cannot rely completely on the child support payments he or she receives from the non-custodial parent.

If parents are given joint custody of a child how much child support must come from each parent is based on a ratio of how much money each person earns in relation to the salaries earned by both people. Often the courts will also take into consideration which parent the child will be living with the majority of time and therefore spending the most time with.

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