Divorced parents in New Jersey may have questions about how long a court order for child support lasts, and the obligation to make payments generally ends at 18 though certain circumstances may change this. However, there are steps parents must take to terminate a child support order.

A child support agency usually can tell someone when payment obligations are finished, and the parent making payments should request to stop making them when this point is reached. Child support generally stops when a child is a legal adult in the eyes of the law or when graduating high school. However, payments may be stopped sooner if a child becomes emancipated. This may occur if a minor leaves home, gets married, joins the military or does something else that means a parent’s financial support is no longer required.

In some circumstances, a parent may be ordered to keep making payments even if a child has legally reached adulthood. For example, child support payments are continued in some states so that a child can pursue higher education. A parent might also agree to pay for some of a child’s education in a support order even if the state does not mandate this. Support payments could also continue if a child has special needs because the custodial parent may be still taking care of a child regardless of age.

Courts usually believe that it is in a child’s best interests to have a relationship with both parents, so a parent without physical custody still has responsibilities for a child and is likely to have visitation rights. Additionally, this parent may be expected to make child support payments. If one has a problem making payments or a parent is no longer receiving payments, a family law attorney can be of assistance.

Source: FindLaw, “When Does Child Support End?”, accessed on Feb. 9, 2015