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Child support


Minor children (under the age of 18) are generally subject to the control and decision-making of their parents or legal guardians until they reach the age of majority (generally 18-21). This means that minor children are not able to override the decisions of their parents on life matters such as where the child lives, whether the child can leave the house on Friday night, whether the child can get married, and whether the child can work outside the home. And the law does not consider minor children able to enter into legally enforceable contracts.

But many states allow for a minor child to become emancipated and assume the responsibilities of adulthood before reaching the age of majority under limited circumstances—usually beginning at age 16-17. If a child joins the military or gets married before reaching the age of majority, or successfully petitions the court for emancipation (“to remove the disabilities of minority”), the child will be emancipated.

If a parent is obligated to pay child support and the child becomes emancipated before reaching the age of majority in the state, the parent may no longer have to pay child support. But the child support obligation in this circumstance does not terminate automatically, and the parent generally must seek an order terminating the support obligation from the court that issued the child support order. And if the child has special needs (health care, living, education), the parent may be required to pay child support even after the child reaches the age of majority or is emancipated.

In Texas, the age of majority is 18, at which point individuals are considered adults with the ability to make their own legal decisions. Until then, minor children are under the control and decision-making authority of their parents or legal guardians. This includes decisions about living arrangements, social activities, marriage, and employment. Minors cannot enter into legally binding contracts. However, Texas law does allow for the possibility of emancipation, which can occur under certain conditions such as marriage, military service, or through a court petition, typically starting at age 16 or 17. Emancipation grants the minor many of the rights and responsibilities of adulthood. Regarding child support, if a minor becomes emancipated before reaching the age of majority, the parent's obligation to pay child support does not end automatically. The parent must obtain a court order to terminate the obligation. Additionally, if the child has special needs, the parent may be required to continue support even after the child is emancipated or reaches the age of majority.

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