When Does Child Support End in California?

As part of a divorce agreement or even during legal separation in California, both parents are expected to financially support their children. While the kids may live primarily with one parent (known as the custodial parent), the noncustodial parent will be responsible for paying child support

However, making child support payments for years and years can strain your bank account. If you are the parent paying monthly child support, you may be wondering when you can stop making these payments. 

In general, child support in California ends when a child reaches 18 years old (also known as the “age of majority). In addition, child support may continue until the child either graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever occurs sooner. 

Child support may end before a child becomes 18 years of age, if any of the following circumstances are true: 

  • The child becomes legally emancipated, which gives a minor child the rights and responsibilities of an adult and frees them from their parents’ control 

  • The child gets legally married or registers a domestic partnership 

  • The child joins the United States military 

  • The child passes away 

On the other hand, parents may voluntarily agree to continue paying child support after a child turns 18 and graduates high school. For example, parents can agree to support their child until he/she turns 21 years of age or graduates college. 

Furthermore, another exception for continuing child support past the age of majority is when the child has special needs and is unable to independently support himself/herself when he/she reaches adulthood. Special-needs children may have continuing and future medical and educational expenses. 

Remember, child support payments do not automatically end in California. Therefore, paying parents must contact a state child support agency representative first to begin the process of terminating these payments. 

If you are interested in ending or modifying child support payments in the San Fernando Valley, call Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law at (818) 839-2533 or fill out our online contact form today to request an initial consultation. Serving families in Sherman Oaks, Encino, Studio City, Van Nuys, and beyond for more than three decades!