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Emancipation before the age of 18 and child support

A Massachusetts parent who pays child support and whose child has become emancipated might not have to continue with that obligation. Generally, children are considered emancipated when they reach the age of 18. However, there are other circumstances in which a child may become emancipated before this point.

A child who gets married is usually considered to be emancipated. The same is true if the child joins the military, becomes economically independent or abandons the family home.

However, the cancellation of child support obligations is not automatic. A parent is required to request its termination. Furthermore, if a married child gets a divorce and is still younger than 18, the parent might be obligated to start paying child support again. If a child has special needs, a parent may be required to keep paying child support even when the child is 18 and older.

Parents may also agree that they will continue support, at least partially, while a child is in college. Another circumstance in which a parent might be required to continue to support even if the child is 18 is if the child is still living at home and finishing high school. During a divorce, parents may want to discuss how they will handle various expenses that are not included in regular child support, such as the costs of various extracurricular activities or tutoring. This can be included in the parenting agreement. If the noncustodial parent reaches a point where they are unable to continue paying the same amount of support because of a change in circumstances, the parent must go through the legal system and ask for a modification in child support. Otherwise, the parent will still be responsible for support in the same amount even if his or her income has significantly dropped or certain expenses have increased.

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