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My son will be entering college in the fall. Does his child support end at age 21? We live in Missouri.

Dudley, MO |

Can I get the child support fix to go directly to him as he will be living on campus not with his mother starting in August?

Attorney Answers 1


It depends on what your agreement was in your divorce proceedings but the short answer is that it usually terminates when the child completes a secondary school program of instruction or reaches age twenty-one, whichever first occurs. Missouri Revised Statute - Section 452-340(5).

The only other condition would be under Section 452-340 (3)(6) which states that the obligation for a parent to make child support payments terminates when the child reaches age twenty-one, unless the provisions of the child support order specifically extend the parental support order past the child's twenty-first birthday for reasons provided by subsection 4 of this section. (Section 4 - if the child is physically or mentally incapacitated from supporting himself and insolvent and unmarried, the court may extend the parental support obligation past the child's eighteenth birthday.)

You should reference your parenting plan or any other agreement that states your intentions for child support to be paid during college or after the age of 21. If the agreement states only that child support is to be paid in college, unless physically or mentally incapacitated after age 21, the support should stop at 21 years minus provisions saying otherwise in your agreement.

Remember, before age 21, when in college and receiving child support, under Missouri law, the parent paying child support is entitled to documentary proof, at the beginning of each college semester, identifying how many credit hours the child will take and what courses. And, at the end of each semester, that parent is to receive documentation showing how many credit hours were earned. These documents are to be issued by the school…a letter from the other parent will not suffice.
If child support is being paid during college before he turns 21, make sure you provide this information to the other parent precisely as laid out above so that you will not be required to refund the child support payments to him later if he wants to enforce this law. The refund amount would begin as of the first time such information was not provided.

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