Many people incorrectly assume child support stops when the child turns 18 years old or graduates from high school. But in Missouri child support frequently lasts until the child actually turns 21. However, there are a series of conditions that must be met in order to keep the child support obligation ongoing.
Missouri law nominally cuts off child support at a child’s 18th birthday. But that cutoff doesn’t apply if the child is enrolled in high school, college, or vocational school.
If the child is enrolled in high school at his 18th birthday the obligation continues as long as he remains enrolled and progressing towards graduation up to completion or when he turns 21, whichever comes first.
For child support to continue while the child attends college or vocational school a series of conditions must be met.
1. The child must be enrolled full time in school (defined as at least 12 credit hours per semester, excluding summer semesters) and complete at least twelve hours of credit.
2. The child must begin the college or vocational school program no later than October 1 following the child’s graduation from high school or completion of a GED.
3. At the beginning of each semester the child shall submit to each parent a transcript provided by the school which includes the courses the child is enrolled in and has completed for each term, the grades and credits received for each such course, and an official document from the institution listing the courses which the child is enrolled in for the upcoming term and the number of credits for each such course.
If any of the three conditions above are not met the parent paying support can ask the court to terminate the child support obligation. Absent extraordinary circumstances the court will grant the termination. However, it is the responsibility of the parent paying support to bring the termination to the court. Failure to do so is a waiver and the child support obligation will continue.
The parent paying support while the child is enrolled in college or vocational school can petition the court to pay child support directly to the child.
The child support obligation ends at age 21 regardless of the child’s educational status except in extraordinary circumstances such as severe disabilities or an explicit agreement by the parents to continue paying child support past age 21.
For further questions about child support obligations or other family law matters contact me for a free consultation at: 314-392-5200
-Laura H. Stobie
McCarthy, Leonard & Kaemmerer, L.C.