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When will my child support order end?

Child support can be a contentious issue in any divorce, but a high asset divorce often involves high incomes. This can result in a substantial child support obligation, and it's not unusual for parents in these circumstances to disagree over what constitutes a reasonable and fair amount. While the Texas courts will generally use the regular child support guidelines in these cases, there may be deviations for extraordinary expenses, including traveling for parenting time or one parent incurring extra expenses as part of the child's education, extracurricular or medical needs.

In the majority of cases, a child support order stays in effect until the child turns 18 or graduates high school. For those with children whose birthdays are in the fall or winter months, this could mean the payor ends up making payments after the child is legally an adult. If the child is legally married or emancipated through other legal avenues before that time, the support order may be ended early.

It's a common misconception that a parent can have his or her parental rights terminated in order to avoid paying child support. However, Sec. 154.001 of the Florida code states that there are some situations in which the court can require a parent to continue paying child support even after parental rights have been terminated. In these cases, the support order would terminate when the child reaches 18, graduates high school or is legally adopted.

It's important to continue paying child support as long as the order is active to avoid the penalties that come along with being delinquent. However, if you believe that your case meets one of the guidelines to have the child support order terminated, a family law attorney can help.

Source: Texas Constitution and Statutes, "Texas Family Code Sec. 154.001," accessed July 31, 2015

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