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When can I stop paying child support?

Divorced parents who are paying child support may yearn for the day when they are no longer obliged to shell out support money each month. That day can vary, depending on where you live and other factors.

Here in Tennessee, child support obligations generally end when the child turns 18. If your child is still attending high school when their 18th birthday comes, the obligation ends upon their graduation or when the child's class graduates. If the child marries or is emancipated before graduation, the parent no longer is obligated to pay support.

If you are a parent of a special needs child, your support obligations may be extended. Family law courts view a child's disability in connection with the family's economic hardship. You may, therefore, be compelled to continue making payments for your special needs child well into their adulthood.

If you are paying court-ordered support for your children with a former spouse or partner, you may need to take legal steps to terminate your obligation. Such could be the case if your child gets emancipated or marries.

In certain situations, you may be able to get a child support modification to lower the amount of support that you must pay. This could be the case if you were laid off or fired from your job or became disabled. However, you will still be responsible for paying the full amount until you get the child support modified. Therefore, it is always good to move quickly when there is an issue preventing you from paying your monthly child support obligation in full and on time.

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