The State of Mississippi is keenly interested in how and when child support payments are ordered, satisfied, and administered by the courts. After all, “the best interests of the child” are always paramount in the minds of attorneys and judges across the state. But what if an older child begins behaving as if they are on their own? What if the child seems to be living as an adult to the point where continued child support payments don’t seem fair?
At The Wade Law Firm, PLLC, we are no strangers to handling Family Law issues like these. Let’s review several scenarios in which Mississippi law may allow the termination of child support payments based on the emancipation of the child – that is, the child’s separation from the authority and control of the parent(s) or legal guardian.
First, we will address situations where Mississippi law itself may automatically end future child support obligations.
- Age – Simply getting older may terminate the legal obligation to pay child support. Under Mississippi Law, the parent responsible for paying child support is obligated to continue the payments, as ordered by the court, until the child reaches 21 years of age. At this point, child support obligations are terminated by operation of law.
But the law alone may also terminate child support obligations before the age of 21 in the following limited scenarios:
- Marriage – If the child lawfully marries, this action terminates child support obligations. Essentially, the child has started a new family and the child and new spouse are now responsible for their own care.
- Full-Time Military Service – Though less romantic than a new marriage, full-time military service may also serve to break a non-custodial parent’s duty to pay child support.
- Felony Conviction – If the child is convicted of a felony and sentenced to at least two years of prison as a result, child support obligations may be terminated by law.
And where the law itself does not end child support payments on its own, the courts may also take action to terminate these requirements in certain additional situations:
- Child Leaves School – This may end child support obligations if the child is at least 18 and is not disabled.
- Voluntarily Moves from the Home – If the child leaves the home of the custodial parent, establishes independent living arrangements, obtains full-time employment, and discontinues educational endeavors, the child may be deemed to be emancipated.
- Cohabitation – If the child moves in with another person without the approval of the obligated parent, payments may be terminated.
- Temporary Suspension – A court may order child support payments to be temporarily suspended if a child is sentenced to prison, but only until the child is released.
Keep in mind that all of these scenarios require that the court has not previously issued a child support judgement that is in conflict with these rules. For example, if parents agree that child support payments will continue until the child finishes college, the court will likely hold the parties to this agreement and refuse to terminate payment obligations.
And before you move to stop paying child support, know that emancipation of a child does not resolve the issue of any past payments which may be owed. Any existing payments must be satisfied in full.
If you’re beginning to feel like terminating child support obligations can be complicated, you are correct–the advice and guidance of effective and experienced legal counsel can help you navigate these important issues.
Attorney Vangela M. Wade in Ridgeland, MS is prepared to help you see whether the requirements of Mississippi law may apply in your personal situation, and if they do, The Wade Law Firm offers a simple, smart, and affordable flat rate fees for resolving your child support issues.
If you have questions about your personal situation, feel free to contact us at 601-790-0043 or fill out our short contact form to arrange an affordable initial consultation with an experienced Family Law attorney. We are zealous advocates for our clients, and we look forward to assisting you.