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Knoxville Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Child Support > Child Support Obligations Do Not Automatically Stop When the Child Turns Eighteen

Child Support Obligations Do Not Automatically Stop When the Child Turns Eighteen


Parents often feel that their children grow up too quickly, but when you are thinking in terms of child support obligations, the day when your children become legally financially independent of you cannot come soon enough.  Even if your children still need help from you financially after they turn eighteen, at least you can help them without having your ex-spouse and the court system butting into your business about your finances.  In Tennessee, finishing your child support obligations is about more than counting the days until your child’s eighteen birthday.  If you have questions about child support or want to modify your current child support order, contact a Tennessee child support lawyer.

When Parents Stop Being Responsible for Child Support Payments in Tennessee

The Tennessee Child Support Guideline states that a parent is responsible for paying child support for his or her child until that child turns eighteen or graduates high school, whichever happens second.  In other words, if your child’s birthday is in December, and he turns eighteen mid-way through his senior year of high school, you will still need to continue paying child support until he graduates from high school in June.  Likewise, if your child’s birthday is in August, and she is still seventeen when she graduates from high school, you will still need to keep paying child support for a few months after graduation, until her birthday.  Child support obligations may end early if the child becomes legally emancipated, marries before his or her eighteenth birthday, or drops out of school and earns an income at a full-time job.  In any case, you are not free of child support obligations until the court declares you as such.

Sometimes parents need to modify child support orders because the financial situation of one or both parents changes.  In that case, you must file a petition to modify your child support order.

The Nichols v. Songstad Case

Jana Nichols and Randall Songstad divorced in Shelby County, Tennessee in 2006, when their two children were minors.  At the time of the divorce, the court ordered Randall to pay $1,154.00 per month in child support for the children.  Jana moved to Texas with the children shortly after the divorce.  When the older child turned eighteen, Randall reduced the amount of child support money he sent each month by half, and Jana accepted this reduced amount without complaint; neither parent alerted the court that Randall had begun paying a lesser amount.  In 2014, when both children had reached adulthood, Jana sued for back child support.  The court determined that Randall needed to pay her approximately $29,000 in back child support, as the couple did not have a court order formally modifying Randall’s child support obligations.

Let Us Help You Today

Making informal agreements with your ex about child support without involving the court always backfires, but a family lawyer can help you stand up for your rights in court.  Contact Knoxville child support lawyer Patrick L. Looper for a consultation.




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