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    When Does My Minnesota Child Support Obligation End?
    A child support obligation terminates automatically when a child turns 18, or graduates from high school — whichever comes later, but in no case beyond the child’s 20th birthday. [1].  (A rare exception to this is in the case of a child who is incapable of supporting himself because of a physical or mental condition, in which case child support may continue throughout the child’s entire life).

    It is important to remember that the child support obligation terminates
    automatically at this time. [2]  The obligor doesn’t need to return to Court to stop it.  He just needs to stop paying.  That said, if payment is through automatic income withholding, it is a good idea to alert your child support case worker in advance of the termination date, to be sure they don’t overlook it and continue withholding the money from your paycheck.

    Another rare exception to the general rule on termination of child support is in the case of emancipated children.  An emancipated child is not entitled to child support. [3]  Whether or not a child is “emancipated” is an issue that must be decided by the Court on a case by case basis, but will normally require proof that the child is living away from home and is self-supporting.  Termination of child support by reason of emancipation requires a motion in Court.

    Finally, parties may agree to continue child support past the statutory termination date.  When this occurs, it is usually based on a mutual desire to support a child through college.  Although the Court lacks jurisdiction to order child support beyond the statutory termination date, the Court does have jurisdiction to enforce a binding stipulation of the parties which provides for that. [4]  If I am representing the obligor, I normally advise against this, because one can always support the children through college if one so desires.  There’s no reason to get the Court involved.


    Endnotes

    [1]See
    Minnesota Statute section 518A.26, Subdivision 5.
    [2]
    Minnesota Statute section 518A.39, Subdivision 5.
    [3]
    In Re Fiihr, 184 N.W.2d 22 (1971).
    [4]
    In Re LaBelle’s Trust, 223 N.W.2d 400 (Minn. 1974).