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How child support is handled when children get emancipated

When couples with kids get divorced, the noncustodial parents are usually required to pay child support until their offspring reach the age of majority. A child is legally considered to be an adult in California when he or she becomes 18 years old.

Circumstances may sometimes necessitate that a child becomes emancipated before this age, meaning that he or she will no longer live with or rely on the custodial parent for support. For example, some individuals may get married, enlist in the military or otherwise become financially independent and no longer need financial support from either parent before reaching the age of majority. In other cases, a child may completely abandon the parental home. On the other end of the spectrum, an adult child may continue to require child support after reaching the age of majority if he or she has special needs.

Even though the custodial parent may not be eligible to continue receiving child support once his or her child is considered to be emancipated, the responsible parent simply cannot stop making the payments. The noncustodial parent must go to court and request that the child support is terminated. If he or she does not get the child support order terminated, the custodial parent could ask the court to enforce the child support order. This could mean that the parent responsible for paying will be in arrears and may end up owing more than she or she would have otherwise.

A custodial parent can use child support to pay for his or her children's medical needs, extracurricular activities and other necessities. If the custodial parent is no longer financially supporting the child, however, an attorney may help the parent that is required to pay child support to get the order terminated. A lawyer may provide evidence that demonstrates that the child has abandoned the parental home or become financially independent.

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