Can Mother Seek Child Support for Child Who is Over 18?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

“My husband has had custody of his daughter for 16 years.  He was divorced in the state of Mississippi and therefore has a custody and child support order from the state of Mississippi.  We have lived in TN for 8 years and the child is turning 18 this year.  She has said she intends to move to MS to live with her mother when she graduates and that we cannot stop her because the age of majority is 18 in TN. Recently, the mother of said child has contacted my husband and stated that she intends to file for child support for the child in question once she moves in to her home in MS because the age of majority in MS is 21.

My question is:  if the child is emancipated in TN (her residence) can her mother file for child support in MS once she moves there?  We do not intend to give up custody, nor do we support her decision to live with her mother.  But is it possible for her to have my husband pay child support under these circumstances?”

In this circumstance, if the child is formally emancipated, meaning there is a court order emancipation, then the mother is no longer responsible for the child, and cannot pursue support for her.   However, that said, the age of majority in MS is 18, not 21.  In some states child support orders will continue until a child is 18, or graduates from high school if they turn 18 during their senior year of high school.  But we have never seen a state that considers someone between the ages of 18 and 21 to be a ‘minor’ subject to child support.  That said, however, it is sometimes the case divorce agreements will include an agreement to continue support during college. If your husband’s divorce decree does not include such language, once his daughter is 18 and graduated from high school, his support obligation should end. Should the mother seek support, contact an attorney who practices family law in your jurisdiction.