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When child support ends in Massachusetts

Whether people are under an order to pay child support or they are the parent receiving child support payments, it is important to understand when child support will end so people can be prepared. The legal age in Massachusetts for children is when they reach the age of 18, but that does not necessarily mean the child support will end then.

Child support is generally ordered to be paid until a child reaches 18. However, if the child turns 18 during a school year, a court may extend that payment until he or she completes the final year of high school. In some states, courts may also order child support to continue as long as the child is attending college in order to help defray the costs of the child's higher education.

If a child seeks emancipation prior to reaching age 18, the child support obligation for the child will end upon his or her becoming emancipated. Child support may extend beyond age 18 if the child has special needs in order to provide the parent caring for the child needed support. When it is time for child support to end, the paying parent must request the child support be terminated, as the obligation will otherwise continue to accrue.

In the event a child support amount is too high to afford due to a change in circumstances, the parent may file a request for a modification of child support. Conversely, if the paying parent's financial circumstances have changed to a degree that an increased amount is warranted, the recipient parent may also request a modification to the child support order. People should not simply stop paying. Instead, they should continue paying child support as ordered until and unless the support is modified or terminated.

Source: FindLaw, "When Does Child Support End?", accessed on Feb. 6, 2015

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