Under California and federal law, both parents have an obligation to financially support their child. When the parents do not live together with the child, that obligation continues. Then, the parents either enter into a child support agreement, which must be approved by the court, or the court makes an order for child support. Child support is the amount of money that one or both parents must pay every month toward the support and living expenses of their child or children.

Though child support orders can be modified, such as in cases where one parent’s circumstances change significantly, the orders by the court remain in effect and enforceable until the child reaches certain benchmarks. The most common reason for the end of court-ordered child support is that the child reaches the age of majority or achieves independence. When the child reaches 18 years of age or graduates from high school, whichever comes first, court-ordered child support typically terminates. When the 18-year-old still attends high school full-time and lives at home, child support continues until the child graduates or turns 19 years old, whichever happens first.

Court-ordered child support also ceases when the child gets married or registers in a domestic partnership. If the child joins the military or becomes legally emancipated, then child support ends. Child support also ends upon the death of the child.

If the child is disabled and unable to support himself or herself, then the court might order the parents continue to support their adult child. In some circumstances, the child might require or desire support for a time after the legally required time frame. If they wish, the parents may agree to support the child longer than what is mandated. Those who need to have a child support order modified or those who have ceased reviving support payments for children before the court order is set to end may wish to consult a family law attorney to learn about their options.

Source: The Judicial Branch of California, “Child Support“, October 30, 2014