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What is constructive emancipation?

Nearly all children want to be adults as quickly as possible. It's only later that -- as adults -- we might hark back to the days of when we were younger and didn't have a care or concern.

Sometimes, teenagers will actually act on their wish to be free, move out and establish themselves as independent adults. But what if you're paying child support to your ex-spouse regarding a minor teenager who has moved out of the home and is now financially independent? Should you continue paying child support in a situation like this?

The emancipation of a minor

The emancipation of a minor is what happens when someone who is under the age of 18 moves out and becomes an independent adult before he or she is actually an adult. If your child has done this, and you're still paying child support, you might be able to file a legal action to end the need to pay child support to your ex-spouse. You can then send this money directly to your child, or save it for yourself.

When your child becomes financially independent and you want to stop paying child support, the legal process to end your payments is referred to as "constructive emancipation." Here are a few common circumstances that might lead to constructive emancipation:

  • Your child enters into a marriage.
  • Your child signs up for and joins the military.
  • Your child establishes him- or herself as an economically independent adult.
  • Your child abandons his or her home without the parent's permission -- often because he or she wants to emancipate him- or herself from the control of the parent.

Don't continue paying child support unnecessarily

There's no reason why you should keep paying child support if your child no longer lives with your ex-spouse. However, you will need to continue with your payments until you can successfully establish that constructive emancipation has occurred. Before trying to establish constructive emancipation, be sure to understand the law and your legal rights and options.

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