Child Support Laws for Non-Minors in Texas

by Beverly Bird
Child support officially ends in Texas when your child graduates from high school.

Child support officially ends in Texas when your child graduates from high school.

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If you're facing divorce and you have grown children, the court probably will not order you to pay child support on their behalf. This is true in Texas and elsewhere, although exceptions do exist. Texas' exceptions are pretty limited, however. In all likelihood, your decree will only include a support obligation for your children who have not yet turned 18 or graduated from high school.

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Age of Majority

Texas' age of majority is 18, so if you have a child near this age at the time of your divorce, your decree may set a specific date for when child support ends. The end date may not be your child's actual birthday, however, because Texas law says children have a right to support until graduating from high school, regardless of the fact that the child may technically no longer a minor. If she turns 18 in January but doesn't graduate until June, your support obligation will generally continue until June. If she does not graduate until age 19 or 20, your support obligation would likely last until then. If your decree is silent regarding a definitive cutoff date, it's assumed to be age 18. However, your spouse can make a request to the court, even after your divorce is final, that support must continue until the date of your child's graduation.

When Age Doesn't Apply

If your child is legally emancipated, your divorce decree will not include a child support provision, even if she hasn't yet reached the age of majority. This is the case even if she's still attending high school. In Texas, emancipating events include her marriage, her enlistment in the military, or if she's applied to the court to be declared legally emancipated, and the court granted her request.

Disabled Children

Disability is the most common reason child support is ordered past the age of majority. In Texas, if your child is disabled, the court will generally order support beyond her high school graduation. Your obligation will be open-ended. It will continue until such time as your child recovers from the disability and the court considers that she's able to support herself. If that doesn't happen, you must pay indefinitely.

College Support

Some states will order child support past the age of majority or beyond high school graduation if a child is attending college. Courts can also order parents to contribute toward education expenses. This is not the case in Texas. The state's legislative code includes no provisions for college support. If you're facing divorce and you're concerned about this, you and your spouse can make your own agreement regarding your child's ongoing support needs, and the court will enforce it. However, a judge can't order it on his own, without you and your spouse jointly making such a request.