KRS 403.213(3) tells us “unless otherwise agreed in writing”, the provisions for the support of a child shall be terminated by emancipation of the child unless the child is a high school student when he reaches the age of 18. Parents can’t agree for child support to stop before the child turns 18, as the support accrues for the benefit of the child, not the custodial parent.
Can you agree to pay child support through college? Yes, but hindsight is 20/20. Do you want to be 60 years old and under court orders to support that last child who is out there burning couches on campus?
In cases where the child becomes emancipated because of age, but not due to marriage, while he or she is still a high school student, child support shall continue while the child is a high school student, but not beyond completion of the school year during which the child turns 19.
Termination of child support due to emancipation of the child, for example when the child moves out of the home and is self-sufficient, should require a court finding to avoid any question about the support, and the child may be un-emancipated if he or she loses that job or apartment and again needs parental support.
There may be issues about the obligation to pay child support for a home-schooled student, but my interpretation of the caselaw suggests that a home-schooled child can qualify as a “high school student” so long as it is not a sham operation and provides an education substantially equivalent to public high school.
Bankruptcy does not cause a termination of child support or discharge an arrearage owed for child support.
Child support continues even if the child is removed from the parents by reason of neglect or abuse, but then it is to be paid to the state instead of the other parent.
Termination of parental rights means termination of future child support, but any arrearages will still be owing.
What if a parent dies? The child support obligation can continue on, and the judge decides whether to modify it, revoke it, or set a lump-sum payment to be paid to the other parent – whatever is “just and appropriate”.
The obligation to pay child support does at least terminate upon the death of the child. However, the death would not eliminate any arrearage in child support that had accrued.
Lastly, regardless of the reason child support is terminating, the wage withholdings do not stop automatically. A court order is required to set aside the Wage Assignment Order. We will talk further about that in the next Lesson.