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When Massachusetts child support orders expire

A parent who either receives or pays child support could be caught unaware that the payments are coming to an end. While a receiving parent may not think about it when a child is over the age of majority and moves out, the paying parent may not realize that additional steps have to be taken to terminate the obligation.

When the court requires a parent to pay child support to a custodial parent, the order generally comes to an end when the age of majority is reached, which is 18 in Massachusetts. This is considered the age when individuals are no longer minors, giving them the ability to make their own legal decisions. However, some child support orders have expiration dates in the terms.

Additionally, a child support order could be terminated if a minor child becomes emancipated. This is a process by which the court deems a minor self-supporting and independent from parental financial support. Emancipation could occur if a minor joins the military, moves out of the parental home, gets married or is otherwise economically independent.

In some cases, a child support obligation may last beyond age 18. This could happen if the court orders the paying parent to support the child's education, including college and university attendance, while the child continues to live at home and depend on parental financial support. The educational support generally lasts until the child turns 21 but could continue until age 23 if the child is still living at home and financially dependent on the parents. Another reason for continued child support is if the child has a disability or other special needs.

Parents who can communicate without conflict could remind one another that their child support arrangement is about to end. If the parents have questions or do not get along, they could consult the Massachusetts child support agency or a lawyer.

Source: FindLaw, "When Does Child Support End?," Accessed Feb. 11, 2015

Source: MassLegalHelp, "Is There Child Support for Children over 18?," Accessed Feb. 11, 2015

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