For most parents paying child support in Tennessee, their obligation ends when the child turns 18. If the child is still enrolled in high school at the time, the obligation to make payments ends when they have graduated with their class. There are some situations in which a parent needs to pay child support past the age of 18 and other situations in which payments can stop earlier. If you are at all confused about your obligations, a Memphis, Tennessee child support lawyer might be able to help.
When is Child Support Required in Tennessee?
Child support generally needs to be paid when the parents of a child divorce or separate and no longer live together. If the custody is not split evenly and the child lives with the other parent most of the time, you are the noncustodial parent. You have the obligation to pay child support until your child reaches the age of majority and can make their own legal decisions.
Your child support obligations are generally not going to end earlier than that. One notable exception is when a minor becomes emancipated. This is when a minor essentially tells the state that they are separated from their parents and no longer a dependent in need of their assistance. If a minor is successfully emancipated, your legal obligation to them and thus the need to pay child support ends.
A minor can also become emancipated in other ways. If they join the military or get married, you may no longer be required to pay child support. However, you cannot just stop paying. You have to wait for a court to say that your obligation has ended, or you could end up on the hook for back payments even if your child is over the age of 18 or emancipated.
Can Child Support Obligations Be Extended?
The state of Tennessee does not mandate extended child support obligations in most cases. Some states have laws concerning support when a child attends college or trade school full-time, but the court can not order any such support here. There would have to be a previous agreement between both parents for support during a child’s pursuit of higher learning.
There is one situation in which you may need to continue paying child support after the age of 18. If your child has a disability that would make it difficult for them to care for themselves when they reach adulthood, an arrangement where both parents continue to support their child can be reached.
What if I Need to Renegotiate My Child Support Arrangements?
If you think that your child support arrangements are no longer sufficient or if you are struggling to recoup payments from the other parent of your child, an experienced child support lawyer can help. It can be difficult to navigate the legal system all on your own, so contact Rice Law and learn more about what we can do to help you and your family.