In North Carolina, parents owe a duty to support their children both emotionally and financially. In regards the financial aspect, this generally means that one parent has a legal duty to pay Child Support to another parent. This Child Support obligation may have been established by an Order of a Court or may have been mutually agreed to by both parents. One common question we get as North Carolina Family Law Attorneys is when does a parent’s Child Support obligation end?
As with most questions regarding North Carolina Family Law, there is both a simple and a more nuanced answer to the question of when a Child Support obligation terminates. Generally, Child Support terminates when the child reaches eighteen years of age. This age-limit is defined by North Carolina General Statute § 50-13.4 which deals with Child Support. However, a further read of the section dealing particularly with the termination of Child Support, N.C.G.S. § 50-13.4(c), reveals that there are exceptions to this general rule.
Specifically, the statute carves out the following three exceptions to the general rule of termination at age eighteen:
“(1) If the child is otherwise emancipated, [Child Support] shall terminate at that time;”
“(2) If the child is still in primary or secondary school when the child reaches age 18, support payments shall continue until the child graduates, otherwise ceases to attend school on a regular basis, fails to make satisfactory academic progress towards graduation, or reaches age 20, whichever comes first, unless the court in its discretion orders that [Child Support] cease at age 18 or prior to high school graduation.”
“(3) If the child is enrolled in a cooperative innovative high school program authorized under Part 9 of Article 16 of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes, then [Child Support] shall terminate when the child completes his or her fourth year of enrollment or when the child reaches the age of 18, whichever occurs later.”
Where a parent’s obligation to pay Child Support in North Carolina generally ends at age eighteen, there may be a specific exceptions, such as graduation from high school after the child turns eighteen, that apply in your case. If you have questions about your child support obligation, please call us today at (704) 810-1400 to schedule a consultation.