Most states list one or two ages in their statutes for when child support ends, depending on circumstances. Louisiana adds a third. But your child’s age isn’t the only deciding factor. The age works in tandem with his status as a student to determine when you can stop paying.
Louisiana child support laws end payment at three different ages. For many support recipients, payments stop at age 18, but children still in high school are eligible until 19 while those with developmental disabilities can continue receiving support until 22.
The Age of Majority
All states have an "age of majority" — the point at which a child becomes an adult and theoretically moves beyond the need for financial support from others. Most parents know it doesn’t usually happen that way, but the age of majority does contribute to the time when you’re no longer legally obligated to pay child support. In Louisiana, the age of majority is 18 unless your child is still attending secondary school (i.e., high school) on his 18th birthday. If so, and if he’s enrolled full-time in good standing, unmarried and dependent on either parent, support can continue until he turns 19 or until he graduates, whichever happens first.
Louisiana doesn’t have a law regarding child support for kids in college, and it doesn’t obligate parents to pay for the child’s tuition or school expenses.
Louisiana law requires that the custodial parent go back to court to have the support termination date extended beyond a child’s 18th birthday if he’s still in school — it doesn't happen automatically. If your ex doesn’t do this, your teenager can file for an extension on his own. Child support becomes payable to him, not his other parent, until it ends. He must prove that he's attending school and that he’s in good standing.
Some events can end your child support obligation in Louisiana before your child reaches the age of 18. If he gets married, this emancipates him and you no longer have to pay child support on his behalf. Emancipation can also occur by court order if your teenager petitions the court, asking to be declared an adult before his 18th birthday.
Children With Developmental Disabilities
Child support for disabled children continues indefinitely in most states, unless or until they recover from their disabilities. This isn't always the case in Louisiana. If your child suffers from a developmental disability — a mental disability or a condition like cerebral palsy — child support can extend to age 22. Regardless of his disability, your child must be a student enrolled full-time in a secondary school or its equivalent, such as a vocational school. His disability must be diagnosed before his 22nd birthday. But there’s an exception to this rule. The court can place him under continuing tutorship if his intellectual capacity is less than two-thirds that of a non-disabled person of his same age. In this case, support can continue indefinitely because he’s not considered capable of emancipation.
Terminating a Support Order
Terminating your child support obligation when your child emancipates or reaches the age of majority depends on the wording in your Louisiana divorce decree or support order. If you have more than one child and your decree or order states a specific amount for each child, support for each child ends automatically when he emancipates or reaches the age of majority. The same applies if only one child is covered by the order. Otherwise, if your order covers more than one child in globo — it doesn’t say how much of your payment goes to each child — your obligation lives on until your youngest child emancipates or reaches the age of majority. If you anticipate paying child support but don’t yet have a support order, consult with a lawyer or legal aid to make sure its terms are stated in such a way that you can avoid this.