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Child support is intended to provide financial support for a minor whose parents are not married and who primarily resides with only one of his parents. In California, child support orders dictate how much support a parent must pay for the upbringing of his child or children and are binding on the parties to whom the orders apply. Most child support orders are effective until a child reaches the age of majority and graduates from high school.

The state of California offers several ways in which a noncustodial parent’s child support obligation may be terminated before his child turns 18 and graduates from high school or reaches 19 years of age. The death of a child is a horrible event that ends a parent’s obligation to pay support; a child’s decision to seek and be granted a legal emancipation from his parents will also terminate a parent’s requirement to pay.

If a child legally marries before he or she meets the statutory end of his child support term, his or her support payments may cease. Additionally, if a child who is 18 but who is otherwise eligible for child support enlists in the military, then his parent may be relieved of child support duties.

There are circumstances where a child’s support payments may continue into adulthood. These situations are generally when the child suffers from an ailment that prevents him from supporting himself. However, as with situations where a child support obligation may end before its natural and expected term, cases where a child support obligation lasts past the achievement of the age of majority are generally evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Family law attorneys can help interested parties investigate whether their child support orders may be terminated early due to one of the reasons discussed in this post.