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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

When Your Child No Longer Needs Your Support: Emancipation and Adulthood

Posted on in Child Support

emancipationWhen does adulthood truly begin? Is it when a young man or woman graduates from high school or college? When he or she starts working a full-time job? The day he or she moves out of his or her parents' house? Or is it the young adult's eighteenth or twenty-first birthday? Few people can agree on on clear-cut event in a young adult's life that marks his or her passage from childhood to adulthood. For many divorced parents, though, this is an important question to ask because it signifies the end of their obligation to pay child support.


The legal term for the milestone of no longer being one's parents' financial responsibility is "emancipation." The events that qualify a young man or woman for emancipation vary from state to state. In Illinois, a young adult is considered to be emancipated at age 18 or once he or she finishes high school, whichever comes later.

Sometimes, the court may require a parent to continue making his or her child support payments even after the child has graduated from high school or turned 18. This is usually done to help cover some or all of the young adult's college expenses if he or she chooses to attend college. Unlike some other states, Illinois does not require a parent to help pay for his or her child's higher education. This decision is made on a case-by-case basis.

In some other cases, a teenager may become emancipated before the age of 18 if he or she is deemed to be a "mature minor." The Emancipation of Minors Act states the requirements that a minor younger than 18 years old must take to become emancipated. The following scenarios are instances that can cause a minor to become emancipated:

  • He or she gets married;
  • He or she enlists in the United States Armed Forces;
  • He or she takes a full-time job that pays enough money for him or her to live independently; or
  • He or she establishes his or her own residence, apart from his or her parents and covers all related expenses.

Every young adult matures at his or her own pace. One young adult might be able to live independently at 18 while another might not reach this point until age 25. Consider your son or daughter's individual circumstances when working through the process of amending or terminating your child support payment obligation.

Child Support Attorneys Can Help

If your child is close to adulthood and you're not sure how to proceed with your child support payments, contact Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. at 630-472-9700 to discuss your concerns with a knowledgeable Wheaton family lawyer who can answer your questions and address all your concerns. Burgeoning adulthood is a dramatic transition for all families, and some parents might feel lost or confused about their new role in their child's life. Our firm can help you get the answers you need about your child support payments and guide you through their termination process.

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