Terminating a Child Support Obligation

If you have a child in Illinois and separate from the child’s other parent, one of you will be ordered to pay child support to the parent who has primary custody over the child. Illinois child support is calculated as a percentage of the payor parent’s take-home pay. The precise percentage depends on the total number of children the parents have in common (not necessarily the total number of children of the payor parent).

Common Situations Which Terminate a Child Support Obligation 

A child support order, once entered, remains in effect until the order is terminated either by court order or by the occurrence of certain events. There are a variety of circumstances under which an existing child support order may end. These include:

  • The child has turned 18 years old: Most commonly a child support order will terminate on the child’s 18th birthday. You should be aware, however, that the parent receiving the child support can petition the court to extend the child support obligation until either the child graduates high school or until the child turns 19 years old, whichever occurs first. In most cases courts will grant such motions.
  • The child becomes emancipated: An emancipated child is actually considered an adult and no longer a child. Therefore, any child support previously ordered will terminate when a child becomes emancipated, even if the child is still under the age of 18 years old. A child may be considered emancipated if he or she gets married, joins the military, gets a job, or moves out on his or her own and wishes to live independently. It is wise to obtain a judicial order declaring that the child is emancipated and you no longer need to pay child support instead of simply stopping payments on your own.

Where a Child Support Obligation May Continue beyond the Child’s 18th Birthday

There are some cases in which you would be required to continue making child support payments even after the child has reached adulthood. If the child has ongoing educational expenses (for college or a professional training school or technical school, for example), you may be required to continue paying child support.

Additionally, if your child is mentally or physically disabled and unable to support him- or herself as a result, you may be required to continue paying child support indefinitely.

Can I Stop Paying Child Support or Adjust Child Support on My Own?

If you have a court order that clearly indicates a stop date for your child support obligation, you are entitled to rely on that order and stop paying child support on the date reflected in the order. Otherwise, you should seek a court order before deciding to terminate or modify your child support payment.

At Abear Law Offices, we help our clients by providing timely and relevant advice regarding their support obligations in domestic cases. If you are unsure of what your child support obligation entails, or if you believe you may be entitled to reduce or terminate your support obligation, contact our skilled Wheaton family law attorneys to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation.