When does Tennessee child support end for a parent of one child?

Tennessee child support ends at what age?  When is Tennessee child support termination?  When can I quit paying child support? When does Tennessee child support end for a parent of one child?  When do you stop paying child support in Tennessee?

A parent’s child support obligation to pay child support stops when the child reaches age 18 or graduates with his or her regularly scheduled high school, whichever occurs second. Specifically, regarding child support termination, T.C.A. Section 34-1-102(b) reads as follows:

Parents shall continue to be responsible for the support of each child for whom they are responsible after the child reaches eighteen (18) years of age if the child is in high school. The duty of support shall continue until the child graduates from high school or the class of which the child is a member when the child attains eighteen (18) years of age graduates, whichever occurs first.

The Tennessee Child Support Guidelines direct that support be paid for a child, who is defined as follows:

(7) “Child” — “Child” includes the plural “children,” and “children” includes the singular “child,” where the context requires. For purposes of this chapter, “child” means:

(a) A person, not otherwise emancipated, who is less than eighteen (18) years of age or a person who reaches eighteen (18) years while in high school until the person graduates from high school or until the class of which the person is a member when the person attains eighteen (18) years of age graduates, whichever occurs last; or

(b) A person who is disabled pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-5-101(k).

Tennessee Child Support Guidelines, Rule 1240-2-4-.02.

To avoid confusion as well as future disputes, any arrearage owed should be reduced to judgment and a repayment plan recorded in a court order. If there is no arrearage owed, then the modified child support order should reflect that, too. Termination of the order and any change to the child support order must be approved by, and entered as, an order with the court.

If you have more than one child, see When can I reduce my Tennessee child support with more than one child?



How do I stop paying child support legally?  How do I avoid paying child support legally?

As described above, the obligation to pay child support continues until a child reaches age 18 or the class of which the child is a member when the child attains eighteen (18) years of age graduates, whichever occurs second. The only exceptions are: 1) emancipation by a court order; 2) if parental rights are terminated by an action of the State of Tennessee; or 3) there is an adoption, usually by a step-parent.

What do I need to do to stop paying child support for grown children in Tennessee?

Most experienced Tennessee family lawyers agree with the Tennessee Court of Appeals which recommends parents owing child support that, at the appropriate time, they should file a petition to terminate child support seeking a court order stating that child support is no longer owed as of the appropriate date (often high school graduation or the child’s 18th birthday). In the best case situation, a parent’s lawyer can reach an agreement with the other parent stating that child support is no longer owed and, when applicable, no arrears or back child support is owed. Once the agreement is put in its proper form and signed by the judge as a court order, the court order memorializes the termination of support. This court order can be used to avoid a claim years later that child support is still owed.

What about child support arrears?

At the time of termination of child support, if arrears and back child support are owed, most experienced Tennessee family lawyers will still recommend filing an action to terminate child support. In this way, if there is a dispute about the amount of arrears (back child support), then it can be resolved for both parents sooner rather than later.

Do I owe back child support after 18 in Tennessee?

Even after a child reaches 18, back child support is owed until paid in Tennessee. As of several years ago, the statute of limitations on Tennessee child support was revoked.

Can I get a TN child support repayment plan I can afford?

There can be a court-ordered determination of arrears to be paid monthly, essentially a repayment plan. In most cases, the court will approve an agreed upon amount to be repaid monthly. But if the parents cannot agree, then the court can determine how much back child support must be paid monthly.

Should I go to Court now or later?

Solving the problem of how much child support is owed when it is now years into the future can be asking for trouble. The worst thing possible is trying to go to court years later when one or both parents have lost, or no longer have, the needed payment documentation. Often the burden is placed on the parent who owes support to prove that child support was actually paid. Parents who owe child support are almost always better off making sure that the record is accurate and clear. In other words, the parent who owes child support cannot go wrong by making sure that “what is owed when” is reduced to a court order.

What is emancipation in Tennessee?

Emancipation is the relinquishment of parental authority over the child and the termination of the parent’s legal duty to support the child. Essentially, an emancipation means that a minor is given the rights of an 18-year-old adult by a Tennessee Chancery Court and will be recognized as an adult for all legal purposes. These rights include entering into contractual agreements, seeking employment, and filing civil suits against others.

Emancipation can be sought by the parents, a legal guardian, or the minor himself or herself. Emancipation is granted by the chancery court, which has the power to remove the disabilities of minority. A Tennessee Chancellor has discretion to grant the minor seeking emancipation full rights of majority or limited rights for a narrow, specified purpose.

What is the age of emancipation in Tennessee?

There is no set age limit for emancipation. The question of whether a minor is mature enough to be emancipated from parental control is a question left up to the courts. Emancipation is fact-dependent. However, emancipation may be inferred from the fact that the child is earning his own way and spending his own money as he pleases. Whether a minor has been emancipated is usually a question that depends upon each unique situation.

Is emancipation the same thing as the age of majority in Tennessee?

Not quite. Once a minor turns 18, the age of majority in Tennessee, he or she is deemed to be emancipated. But a minor can become emancipated before reaching the age of majority.

In Tennessee, is child support owed after a child is emancipated?

No. Child support is not owed to an emancipated child because emancipation relinquishes the parent’s legal duty to support the child. A parent may have a duty to continue paying child support if the child has turned 18, but is still finishing high school. In such a case, the parent’s support obligation continues until the 18-year-old child either graduates high school or the class of which the child is a member graduates, whichever occurs first.

Is a person emancipated if they marry before reaching the age of majority?

Yes. Marriage acts as full emancipation of a minor child.


Hi, this is Miles Mason.  This Tennessee child support answer is for our family law and divorce clients and friends in Memphis, Germantown, Collierville, Tennessee and the surrounding area.  The obligation to pay child support ends when that child reaches 18 or graduates with his or her high school class, whichever occurs second.  So, keep a copy of the high school graduation brochure.  Although it is not legally required to obtain an order terminating child support, we recommend parents do so for two important reasons.  First, obtaining an order absolutely prevents any future questions from ever arising about when a parent was supposed to quit paying child support.  Second, parents can document in the order that no arrearages are owed.  Or, if arrearages are owed, the parents can document exactly how and when the arrearages will be paid.  You can start the process to obtain the order a month or so before graduation or when the child turns 18, whichever occurs last.

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