Divorced parents may assume that the child support obligation ends once the child becomes an adult. However, because child support laws vary by state, and there are extenuating circumstances in which the court may either discontinue child support early or extend it past the usual cut-off point, parents in West Virginia should know how the laws apply to their situation.
Generally, the assumption is that once the child becomes 18 years of age (also referred to as the age of majority) and/or becomes self-supporting, the parent paying child support can take steps to discontinue it. However, there are some possible exceptions. For example, West Virginia law stipulates that child support payments can continue past the age of 18, but not extend past the age of 20, if the child a full-time student in good standing in a secondary educational or vocational program, provided that the child resides with a parent or guardian and remains unmarried. In cases where the child has special needs, the court may make an exception and extend child support past the age of majority.
It is also important to note that, even if a child does not qualify for child support beyond age 18, the obligation does not automatically terminate when the child reaches the age of majority. According to FindLaw, it is the responsibility of the parent who pays child support to request an end of the child support obligation.
If a minor child becomes emancipated before the age of 18, his or her parents are no longer required to pay child support. A minor child becomes emancipated, i.e., independent of financial support from parents, by joining the military, getting married or via a court process of becoming self-supporting.