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Does child support automatically end at age 18?

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2024 | Blog, Family Law

The rules regarding child support are in place to ensure the well-being of children following divorce. Yet you may be uncertain if monthly payments automatically end when your kids turn 18.

Exploring the details surrounding this question will help you better grasp the situation.

The basic law

In the state of New Jersey, child support is generally expected to continue until the child reaches the age of 18. However, some circumstances may extend this obligation beyond the 18th birthday.

Education level

If a child is still attending high school or any equivalent program beyond the age of 18, child support may continue until the completion of the program or when the child turns 19, whichever happens earlier. This exception recognizes the importance of supporting a child’s education until they graduate from high school.


In situations where a child has physical or mental disabilities, the obligation for child support may extend beyond the age of 18. The court may order continued support to ensure that the child’s special needs are adequately addressed.

Voluntary agreement

Parents can also voluntarily agree to continue child support beyond the age of 18. This often occurs when both parties recognize the necessity of continued financial support for the child’s well-being, especially in cases such as college expenses or other educational pursuits.

Legal emancipation

Emancipation is the legal term for when a child becomes financially independent. In New Jersey, if a child gets married, joins the military or becomes self-supporting, the court may consider them emancipated, and child support may no longer be mandatory.


To ensure a clear understanding of child support obligations, parents must communicate. It is important to be aware of the specific circumstances that may extend the duration of child support and to address any concerns or agreements collaboratively.

While child support typically ends at age 18, understanding the law’s intricacies can help parents navigate this aspect of family responsibility.