Generally, in Texas, a child support obligation lasts until the child turns 18 or graduates high school. Whichever event occurs the later of the two will control. However, in some circumstances, the answer to the question may be slightly different. The Texas Family Code governs the tenure of the child support obligation. We will discuss them in detail below.
Length Of Child Support PaymentsAccording to the Texas Family Code, Section 154.001, parents have a duty to provide child support to their children. In Texas, the obligation of child support continues until any one of the following occurs:
- The child reaches 18 years of age or the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs later; or
- The child is emancipated through marriage, or through removal of the disabilities of minority by court order, or by other operation of law; or
- The child dies.
The Child Reaches 18 Years of Age or the Child Graduates High School, Whichever Occurs LaterIf a child is still in school when they turn eighteen, then the support obligation will continue. If a child graduates high school at any age younger than eighteen, the obligor parent must pay child support until they reach the age of eighteen.
The Child is Emancipated Through Marriage, or Removal of the Disabilities of Minority by Court Order, or by Other Operation of LawIf children are emancipated through marriage, or through the removal of the disabilities of minority by court order, or by other operation of law, then the obligor parent's payments will cease. Emancipation means that a child that is under eighteen is no legally under no duty to remain under the supervision of their parents. So then, what does the phrase, "removal of the disabilities of minority by court order mean?" It simply means, that in the eyes of the law, the child at the center of a child support order is no longer considered to be a child. As such, a parent has no obligation to render support to an individual who is no longer considered to be a child. Emancipation through marriage, generally means that if a child marries, then the child support obligation ceases. The removal of disabilities of minority by court order occurs when a Judge issues an order that permits a child to have the same rights as an adult.
The Child DiesGratefully, we have never encountered this yet, but this triggering event is pretty straight forward. If a child dies, the obligor parent is no longer responsible for making support payments.
Indefinite Period of Child SupportWhat is considered to be an indefinite period of child support? Child support may be ordered for an indefinite period when there is a disabled child. What does it mean to be disabled? According to the Texas Family Code Section, 154.302 “Disabled” means:
- Requiring substantial care and personal supervision because of a disability and is not capable of self-support’; and
- Existing before the child’s 18th birthday. The child support payments for a disabled child may go to the guardian or conservator of the child or the adult child directly.