If the court orders you to pay child support after a divorce, the goal is to offset the costs that your ex is facing while raising the child. For instance, maybe they have custody 70% of the time and you have it 30% of the time. Your ex may earn less than you and also incur more day-to-day expenses, so your support payments even things out.
While parents aren’t always thrilled to pay — financial issues are often complex and confrontational — many do understand the necessity for those payments. They also want to help their children have a comfortable, happy, healthy life, and they know that monthly payments can, in theory, help them achieve that.
But when do you get to stop paying? Typically, this just happens when your child turns 18 and gets done with high school. That makes them a legal adult and no one is responsible for them any longer. If the child takes longer to graduate from high school, payment may continue until they turn 20, but this isn’t all that common. Most people do graduate at or around 18 years old.
Will the child move out at 18? Maybe not. Many children continue to live with their parents or, even if they go to college, they come home in the summers. Just don’t assume that the fact that your child still lives with your ex means you still have to pay support every month.
Above all, be sure that you and your ex understand your legal obligations in the wake of a divorce.