When does Child Support end?

For most cases, Child Support will end when the child graduates high school. But the complete answer can be more complicated because Illinois law provides two definitions to determine when Child Support should end.

18th Birthday; High School graduation; or 19th Birthday

In 750 ILCS 5/505(a), Illinois law provides a clear definition of who is a child for Child Support purposes. It states that a “child” shall be anyone under age 18 or under age 19 who is still attending High School.

That means that Child Support will end when the first of the following conditions is met:

  • the child turns 18, if he or she has graduated High School;
  • the child graduates High School, if he or she is over the age of 18; or
  • the child turns 19.

When the child “Emancipates”

Emancipation is a legal term that means the child is free from parental control. Parents do not have a duty to support  emancipated children.

In 750 ILCS 5/505(g), Illinois law gives a judge the power to determine when a child has Emancipated. There are no events specifically defined in the law and what a judge will rule will vary from case to case.

However, many practicing family lawyers suggest that the following events should be considered Emancipating events:

  • the child gets married;
  • the child obtains full-time employment (excluding summer jobs);
  • the child maintains his own full-time residence (excluding boarding school, camp, etc.); or
  • the child enlists in the armed services.

Note that even if any one of the above events occurs, you still need to convince a judge to rule that it is an emancipating event for Child Support purposes.