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Terminating Child Support

by Wes Cowell, updated 9 June 2015 -- suggest a correction


Child support terminates upon a child's emancipation or 18th birthday, whichever first occurs. If a child is still in high school, support is extended beyond the 18th birthdayto graduation or the 19th birthday.  Need advice?  Call, leave your info, or scheduleschedule a consultation.


Emancipation can happen in all kinds of ways (marriage, military enlistment, leaving home to "fight the battle of life," etc.).  Illinois law now says that a child's 18th birthday serves as a backstop to all the other emancipation possibilities.  If, however, a kid is still in high school on his 18th birthday, then support is extended to high school graduation.  It can't go on forever, however.  The 19th birthday is an absolute backstop — high school graduaiton or no.


If you're caught up in messy case where a child is not attending high school but is working on a GED, or if there are other complications (what about incarceration?), read my article on emancipation — it should answer all of your quesitons.


Child support orders are supposed to set the date of termination.  When the order is entered, the lawyers write in the order that support terminates on the blank day of the blank month of the blank year — fill in the blanks.  The date that is inserted is the child's 18th birthday.


If your order contains such a termination date, just take a copy of the order to your employer's H.R. person and make sure support terminates.


If your order does NOT contain a termination date, you should go back to court to get an order that terminates support.  Shoulda done it right the first time.  If you want to just wing it without an order and can convince the employer to stop the withholding, bully for you.  If you're dragged in to court, you'll have an absolute defense that support terminated by operatoin of law on the child's 18th birthday (so long as the child still ALSO had graduated from high school).


Some folks agree to supercede the law and have support flow until a child reaches the age of 21,
or 24, or completes medical school, or whatever.  Those agreements are valid and binding. They control.


The termination date does not apply to arrearages.  If an obligor owes arrearages and the child emancipates, go to court to set in stone the fact that the child emancipated and to clearly specify how much remains on the arrearage.  The existing child support deduciton will continue to be deducted and the full amount will be applied to the arrearage.



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