Child support is intended to continue throughout your child’s life until they are either emancipated or until an age or milestone specified in the child support order (from the court) is reached. This means that, depending upon your particular order, you may be expected to pay child support until your child reaches the age of 18 or 21 or until your child graduates from college. Again, it depends upon your specific order and the child support laws in your state.
Assuming that your child support order only requires you to pay support until your child achieves legal emancipation, a court order emancipating the child may also satisfy the requirement of your child support order and child support payment will no longer be required.
This is true even if the child has not yet reached the age of majority as an emancipation order is the equivalent of declaring a child to be an adult. Once emancipation has been granted, the custodial parent will no longer have any obligation to support the child financially and this rule applies to child support from the non-custodial parent as well.
But before you simply stop paying child support, you should consult an attorney to verify that your child’s emancipation order will, in fact, nullify your obligation to pay support. You may even need to file for the emancipation yourself if your child meets the legal requirements for emancipation (i.e., your child has married or is in the U.S. military, for example). A court hearing may even be required.
In some states, the law allows for a partial emancipation, meaning that while the child is granted some rights normally reserved for adults, they are still entitled to parental support and supervision. In these case, you would likely be expected to continue paying support until the specified age or milestone is reached.
To prevent any legal problems, have your attorney review both your child support order and your child’s emancipation order to determine your best course of action.