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The Lifespan of Child Support in Illinois

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While child support in Illinois usually ends when a child reaches the age of majority, the child’s specific circumstances can significantly impact the lifespan of support payments. School status, emancipation and disability may also play a role in the continuation or termination of child support.

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Age of Majority in Illinois Based on State Law

A child support order will typically determine when the paying parent’s requirement to pay child support ends, which is normally once the child reaches the age of 18. This is the age of majority in Illinois.

However, child support orders may not establish when child support ends in some cases. In these instances, paying parents can’t simply stop payment once the child reaches the age of majority. Instead, the parent must appeal to the court to make modifications to the order so it carries a specific date on which to end. Any failure to make payments before the termination date can come with legal penalties for noncompliance.

In Cases of Emancipation

Some children may emancipate themselves from their parents before they turn 18. When this happens, the obligation to pay child support ends. A child can request emancipation if he or she joins the military, gets a job that makes child support payments unnecessary, gets married, or moves out to establish independence. However, a child is not emancipated just because he or she has a baby, receives public assistance, or drops out of school.

After the Child Turns 18

In some cases a parent may still be required to pay child support after the child reaches the age of majority. For instance, if the child is still in high school when he or she turns 18, the parent may need to provide child support until the child turns 19 or graduates. Parents may also need to continue paying child support if the child has a physical or mental disability, or if he or she has enrolled in a trade school or college.

Since the age of majority and other special circumstances may extend or reduce the child support lifespan, it is important to carefully evaluate each case before stopping payments to reduce the risk of legal penalties. A child support attorney can help parents identify when child support payments are no longer required.

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
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