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How Long Do I Have To Pay North Carolina Child Support?


Parents are required to support their child financially regardless of whether the parents are married, separated, divorced, or single. In North Carolina, lawmakers enacted Child Support Guidelines to ensure that parents continue to support their child financially even if the relationship with the other parent ends. In most cases, family court judges follow the Child Support Guidelines unless there is a valid reason to deviate from the guidelines. Furthermore, circumstances often change requiring one of the parties to petition the court for a modification of child support at least once before the child support obligation ends. One of the most common questions about child support is how long does child support last.

When Does Child Support End?

As with other family court issues, the question of when child support ends has a simple answer; however, there are exceptions that apply in some situations. The simple answer can be found in North Carolina General Statute §50-13.4. In most cases in North Carolina, a parent’s child support obligation ends when the child reaches eighteen years of age. A further review of the child support statutes reveals exceptions to this general rule.

  • Child support ends immediately if the child is emancipated.
  • If the child turns 18 but he or she is still attending a primary or secondary school, child support will continue until the child graduates, ceases to attend school, is not making progress toward graduation; or reaches 20 years of age.
  • Child support continues past the age of 18 years if the child is enrolled in a cooperative innovative high school program until the child completes the fourth year or turns 18 years of age, whichever occurs later.

Of course, your circumstances are unique to your situation and may affect when your child support obligation ends. Our attorneys analyze your situation in relation to the North Carolina child support laws to determine if your child support obligation ends when your child turns 18 years of age or if you fall into one of the exemptions to that general rule. If necessary, we can petition the court to clarify or modify your child support obligation based on your circumstances.

Contact an Experienced Jacksonville Child Support Attorney

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