How Long Do You Have to Pay Child Support?

Every parent is legally and financially responsible for the well-being of their children. This means that both the mother and the father of a child must contribute, whether or not they are married and/or both have physical custody of the child. One of the ways in which the government works to ensure that every child is cared for is by enforcing child support payments, which involve monthly payments by a non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to help cover costs of housing, feeding, clothing, and caring for his or her child.

So how long does a non-custodial parent have to pay child support? The short answer is that according to Texas law, a parent must pay child support until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes first. However, there are certain circumstances in which the timeline may vary. For example, if the child is mentally or physically disabled, the non-custodial parent may be ordered to pay child support for an indefinite period of time.

Child support may end earlier in the following circumstances:

  • The child marries
  • The child enlists in the military
  • The child becomes legally emancipated

Additionally, parents may also agree to a support order that is longer for reasons such as supporting the child through college. A court may also take other factors into consideration when issuing an order.

Can we change our support order?

One of the most common issues that arise with child support orders is when the ability of the non-custodial parent to pay support is affected. 18 years is a long period of time, and courts recognize that life events can factor into an individual’s financial situation. Parents can petition the court to have their child support order modified to better reflect the financial status of both parties and to ensure that they are contributing to the child’s well-being to the best of their abilities.

Have further questions? Contact the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard for more information.