When Does Child Support End in Missouri?

Following separation and divorce, parents are expected to share the cost of raising their child or children. It is common for the parent who earns more to make child support payments to the other parent, even if parents share equal custody time. 

In Missouri, the obligation to pay child support typically ends when the child turns 18 years old, at which time they are considered “emancipated”. There are some exceptions:

  • Support could end sooner if the child marries, joins the military or otherwise becomes self-supporting before age 18;
  • Support could continue until age 21 if the child is still in school/college;
  • Support may continue indefinitely if the child has a mental or physical incapacity requiring additional and continual care.

For a legally-mandated child support obligation to be terminated, the court must be notified in writing. Courts do not know the particular circumstances of every case and will not end it automatically. Assuming one of the above conditions exists allowing support to end, there are steps the parent making payments must take. The process is covered in a guide created by the Missouri Courts titled “In Your Child’s Best Interest: A Handbook for Separating / Divorcing Parents.”

A sworn statement or affidavit must be filed either with the Court (if child support was a judicial order), or with the Family Support Division (FSE) (if it was an administrative order). The filing must state that the child is emancipated, along with the reason–turning 18, joining the military, etc.–and request that the support obligation be terminated.

If both parents agree, the quickest method is for the parent receiving child support to provide a sworn statement of emancipation to the parent who pays child support. That statement is then filed with the court or FSE. A judge can grant the request without additional notification or court appearance. 

Otherwise, the parent who pays support may submit their own sworn statement or affidavit seeking termination of legal payment obligation. In that case, notice is served to the parent receiving support, who must:

  • Acknowledge and agree in writing, or
  • Submit a sworn statement or affidavit disagreeing to the termination of child support and stating the reason.
  • If there is no response within 30 days, the request to end child support will be granted.

If the custodial parent denies that the child is emancipated (because they are still in school, have ongoing medical needs, etc.), the court or FSD will schedule a hearing to review the matter. At the hearing the court may enter a judgment terminating child support without requiring a court appearance by either party.

If you are facing potential termination of child support and believe it should continue, or aren’t sure, be sure to contact your attorney to review the matter. We will be glad to help. With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, will provide the legal guidance you need. For questions or to schedule a confidential consultation, contact our team.