Child support payments are meant to last until a child turns 18. In Texas, the parent
who is paying child support is called the obligor, and the parent who
receives payments is the obligee, who is often the custodial parent, is
expected to receive child support payments, which is meant to cover the
child’s day-to-day and living expenses.
With that said, parents are obligated to continue paying child support
until the child turns 18, or is around the age where the child will graduate
from high school. These are two cases where child support payments can
be stopped. One is when the child emancipates from his or her parents,
and the other is he or she becomes physically incapacitated, and will
need child support payments past the age of 18.
Emancipation Laws in Texas
Children can be emancipated, or legally separated, from their parents by
the age of 16 or 17. Emancipation gives the minor the rights and obligations
of adulthood. A minor is automatically emancipated when they become married
or join the military. Many minors go through the court petitioning process
of emancipation, however.
To be eligible for emancipation, the minor must be at least 16 years old,
is living separately from his or her parents, and can support him or herself
financially. Once a child’s petition for emancipation is approved
and finalized, then the obligor parent is no longer legally responsible
for child support.
Child Support & Disability
The other condition where child support payments might end is if the minor
becomes disabled. Under this law, if your minor child does become incapacitated,
they may be dependent on the income from child support payments past the
age of 18. If that is the case, the obligor may be required to continue
paying child support payments indefinitely.
The courts, however, will assess the circumstances to determine how much
the child may benefit in the future, the amount of care necessary to assist
the child, and the earning capacity of each parent.
The Process of Ending Child Support Payments
The first step is to contact the Domestic Relations Office (DRO), a petition
at the family court. The courts will then inform your Child Support Enforcement
Officer, alerting them to the petition. Upon review of the case, the obligee
is given notice of the petition and may object or permit the change, as
he or she will have the opportunity to file a response to the request.
If you have any further questions about child support payments and your
legal rights, please
contact our Houston family law attorney at the Law Office of Kathryn Marteeny. Schedule a
initial case review today!