Turning 18 is a significant milestone for both children and their parents. In Tennessee, this age marks the point at which child support obligations may change or even terminate. However, the process is not always straightforward, and there are several factors to consider when determining if child support will continue or end.
Understanding the Age of Majority in Tennessee
In Tennessee, the age of majority is 18, which means that parents are no longer legally required to support their children once they reach this age. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, child support may continue if the child is still in high school. In this case, child support may extend beyond the child's 18th birthday.
Factors That May Extend Child Support Obligations
There are several factors that may require a parent to continue paying child support after their child turns 18. These include:
- High School Enrollment: If the child is still enrolled in high school when they turn 18, child support may continue until they graduate or turn 19, whichever comes first.
- Disability: If the child has a physical or mental disability that prevents them from becoming self-supporting, child support may continue until they are 21, and in some cases beyond that. The court will determine the duration of the support obligation based on the child's specific needs and circumstances.
- Agreements Between Parents: In some cases, parents may agree to continue child support beyond the age of 18. This may be due to the child's educational or financial needs, or other factors that the parents deem relevant. Such agreements should be documented in writing and approved by the court.
Terminating Child Support in Tennessee
Once a child reaches the age of majority or meets the criteria for child support termination, the paying parent must take action to end their support obligation. This process typically involves the following steps:
- File a Petition to Terminate Child Support: The paying parent must file a petition with a family court requesting the termination of their child support obligation. This petition should include evidence that the child has reached the age of majority or has met the criteria for termination.
- Notify the Other Parent: The paying parent must serve the other parent with a copy of the petition, giving them an opportunity to respond.
- Attend a Hearing: If the other parent contests the petition, a hearing may be scheduled to determine if child support should be terminated. Both parents will have the opportunity to present their case to the judge, who will make a final decision.
- Obtain a Court Order: If the judge agrees that child support should be terminated, they will issue a court order to that effect. The paying parent should keep a copy of this order for their records.
Terminating child support in Tennessee can be a complex process, and it's essential to understand the laws and procedures involved. If you're facing the termination of your child support obligation or have questions about the process, the experienced family law attorneys at Conner & Roberts, PLLC can help. Our team is well-versed in Tennessee child support laws and can guide you through the process, ensuring that your rights and interests are protected.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.