How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support For?

Being legally responsible to pay your ex child support may be a nuisance, but as a parent, you need to provide for your child, even if they are not living with you.

Courts decide child support on a case-by-case basis as well as based on the law in that particular state. For example, the state of Illinois still uses the traditional child support method, in which the noncustodial parent pays the custodial parent a certain percentage of their net income based on the number of kids they have. Currently, if you have one child, the noncustodial parent would pay the custodial parent 23 percent of their net monthly income; 28 percent for two children; and so on.

In other states, child support is determined based on the “income-shares” method. In these states, the income of both parents and the amount of time a child spends with both parents will determine the amount of child support that needs to be paid. This is done to ensure that the child receives the same amount of care as they would if the parents never separated. For example, if the parents split time with the child equally, and if both parents make around the same amount of money, the courts may rule that no child support is needed. If the noncustodial parent makes significantly more than the custodial parent, then the court would determine how much child support is due.

If you are required to pay child support, you may often wonder when you can stop. Like everything else with child custody, there is no set answer to this question, as every state and every case has different requirements.

In most cases, child support payments will end when the child turns 18. However, there are always exceptions to the rule.

If the child becomes emancipated from his or her parents, then child support payments will cease. There is no need to pay your ex child support if the child is no longer under their custody. This could be that the child legally starts living with someone else, or if the child were to get married before the age of 18.

If a child turns 18, but the child has not yet graduated from high school, the court may require you to continue making child support payments until your child has graduated from high school. Usually, the courts will require that you pay until the child graduates or until he or she turns 20, whichever comes first. This keeps noncustodial parents from having to pay child support to the custodial parent if the child is simply failing out of school multiple years in a row.

Your child custody order will also give you insight into how long you will pay. Sometimes parents decide to extend the child support for various reasons, whether to make up for back-owed child support or to help finance the child until he or she graduates from college. This is something that would have been decided in your initial hearing with your ex.

If you are unsure about how long you will need to pay child support, you can either find this information in your child custody order, or you can speak to a family lawyer in your area who will be able to help you more thoroughly.



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