The “non-custodial” parent must pay the child support until the child is eighteen years old. But there are two exceptions. One exception exists for if a child becomes emancipated. The second exception is if the “non-custodial” parent dies.
Emancipation of the child automatically occurs at the age of eighteen, except in several states where a child becomes emancipated at the age of twenty-one. Child support payments must continue until emancipation. In certain instances a child may become emancipated by an order of the court. This may occur when a child no longer wishes to be subject to his parents or the parents are no longer fit to care for the child and the child is able to cover their own expenses.
Emancipation rarely occurs before the age of sixteen and is quite common at age seventeen and at age eighteen in states where child support must continue until the age of twenty-one.
Emancipation does not automatically occur when the child leaves home. But there must be an order by the court. But a child is automatically emancipated when the child is married or joins the armed services.
Consider the following example:
Husband and wife are divorced and wife has custody of the child and husband must pay child support. The husband and wife live in New York where the age of emancipation is twenty-one. At the age of eighteen the child joins the army. At this point husband stops paying child support under the theory that the child has been emancipated. Wife petitions the court to force payment. The court will say that the child has been emancipated and husband has legally stopped paying child support. But if the child is discharged from the army at the age of twenty the husband may be legally obligated to continue child support payments.
Image by: futureatlas.com