There are cases in which children can become emancipated, absolving the noncustodial parent of any obligation to provide support. Parents who receive or pay child support should be aware of how the emancipation of their children before they reach the age of majority, which in Illinois is 18, can affect those payments.
A minor may be allowed to self-emancipate for a variety of reasons. He or she may have obtained economic independence or has completely abandoned the parental home. A child may also be emancipated if he or she has married or signed up for military service.
Generally, children are not allowed to be emancipated if they are still in the custody and care of their parents. The parents’ duty to make child support payments will continue until the child becomes a legal adult, and in some cases, even after the child reaches the age of majority. This includes cases in which the adult child has special needs. Child support payments may also be required if a minor child has obtained a divorce, and the courts have determined that he or she requires custody and care.
The emancipation of a child does not automatically result in the termination of child support payments. A child support obligor is required to ask the court that the payments be stopped once a child reaches the age of majority or he or she is emancipated.
Individuals who have questions or unresolved issues regarding child support obligations should speak with an attorney who practices family law. The attorney may examine a client’s case and advise of the appropriate legal steps to take to have child support payments increased or decreased due to changes in a parent’s financial circumstances. The attorney may also explain the various enforcement measures that can be initiated to collect on delinquent child support payments.