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How long do you have to pay child support?

Child support consistenly ranks among the issu41671077_S.jpges in a divorce that cause the most contention. Tensions between ex-spouses can often cause both sides to accuse the other of failing to pay it or misusing it. Given the strong bond you likely share with your kids, you may have no problem paying your obligation. At the same time, you may not want to see your ex-spouse taking advantage of this benefit by trying to get you to pay beyond what your obligation calls for. This prompts the question of exactly how long do you have to continue to pay child support

The answer can be found in Section 452.340.3 of Missouri's Revised Statutes. It states that, generally, your child support obligation terminates when your children covered under it: 

  • Die
  • Marry
  • Enter into military service
  • Reach the age of 18

If your child becomes self-supporting before turning 18 and your ex-spouse relinquishes parental control over him or her (either by express or implied consent), you do not have to keep paying child support (for him or her) in such a case, as well. 

Your obligation may extend beyond your child's eighteenth birthday if he or she chooses to pursue any secondary schooling. In order for you to remain obligated to pay support, he or she must remain enrolled in school and be continually progressing towards the completion of a degree program. Your obligation will then end either when he or she earns a degree or reaches the age of 21 (whichever comes first). 

Should any of your children lack the physical or mental capabilities to support themselves financially (and remain insolvent and unmarried) the court may order that you continue to pay support for them beyond the age of 21. 

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Lee's Summit, Missouri 64086


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