750 ILCS 505(g) advises us when child support can be terminated.
“An order of support shall include a date on which the current support terminates. The termination date shall be no earlier than the date on which the child covered by the order will attain the age of 18. However, if the child will not graduate from high school until after attaining the age of 18, then the termination date shall be no earlier than the earlier of the date on which the child’s high school graduation will occur or the date on which the child will attain the age of 19. The order for support shall state that the termination date does not apply to any arrearage that may remain unpaid on that date. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent the court from modifying the order or terminating the order in the event the child is otherwise emancipated”
So, child support can only terminate in a few situations:
- Child graduates from high school AND turns 18.
- Child turns 19.
- Child is emancipated.
So, what is “emancipation” in Illinois? For formal emancipation the child must petition for emancipation through the Emancipation of Mature Minors Act 750 ILCS 30. This is the process where a court determines that the parents and or guardians no longer have any legal authority over the child and the child is treated legally as an adult from here on in.
There is some common law and a general societal tradition that once a child is married, they are automatically emancipated. There is also the same tradition if a child enlists in the military. The cases that established these rules are extremely old and were designed for a world where 16 year olds would routinely get married and join the military. Those events are not common anymore so it’s not certain a court would uphold them today.
In the alternative, a child support payor could ask the court to “abate” his support because of some kind of issue. This was done via Supreme Court Rule 296 not a statute. This particular supreme court rule was was repealed and reserved in 2010. Lawyers still file all the time asking to “abate” when they have no statutory or rule-based authority to do so.