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Does Minor Emancipation Mean the End of Child Support?

Posted on in Child Support

Wheaton family law attorneys

When a divorce occurs, one spouse often provides child support to their ex-spouse until their children become emancipated. Usually, this happens when the children turn 18. But what if the children become emancipated before they come of age? When is a minor considered emancipated, and how does this impact child support? The subject of minor emancipation and child support has a long and complicated history in Illinois state law. The topic of de facto emancipation has been hotly contested in Illinois state law, but thankfully, several court rulings have provided clarity on determining when a child, whether they are a minor or not, has been emancipated and its relationship to child support.

The 1980 Emancipation Act

The court rulings on child emancipation in Illinois go back over the last century. There were many different rulings which brought confusion and inconsistency to how the law was enforced. In an attempt to bring clarity to the debate, Illinois passed the Emancipation of Minors Act (750 ILCS 30/1 et seq.), and under this law, there are two types of emancipation:

Whole emancipation: Which is as it sounds. The minor is completely emancipated from the parents and does not receive any financial aid, including child support. The minor is treated as an adult and is responsible for their economic well-being.

Partial emancipation: This can vary. Under partial emancipation, the minor continues to receive some financial support (possible child support) from their parents but has to seek their permission to engage in certain activities.

This law was designed to provide opportunities for special emancipation for mature minors who are either 16 or 17 years old. The requirements to receive special emancipation from a court say the juvenile has to be mentally, emotionally, and physically mature enough to be financially responsible on their own. If these qualifications are met, then the minor is granted emancipation. Upon emancipation, child support usually ends. However, while the law brought some clarity, it did not account for every situation. There are many instances where a child cannot become emancipated from their parents at the age of 18. In some cases, the courts would direct that child support continue past the age of 18 until they were 21, or even further if the child had special needs. Also, the 1980 law could not overrule more than a century of court rulings on the topic of child emancipation and its correlation to child support.

Illinois Court Rulings

Traditionally, under the principles of Illinois common law, minor emancipation has occurred when a minor is married, joins the armed forces, or becomes self-evidently self-sufficient. As such, the child no longer becomes entitled to child support. However, each situation is different, and no universal law can accurately apply itself to each case. The 2010 Illinois Supreme Court ruling on a series of cases involving one family brings clarity to this subject. In its decision the court explained three things:

1. There are situations where a minor becomes self-emancipated regardless of whether the court granted their petition. When this occurs, the parents are under no obligation to continue to provide support. However, this self-emancipation cannot be presumed and depends on whether they have fully left the care of the parent. The courts must decide using facts relevant to that case.

2. If an emancipated minor becomes dependent on a parent again, they are entitled to receive child support once again.

3. If a parent has multiple children with their ex-partner and some of the children become emancipated, the parent reduces their child support without permission from the court. If a minor becomes dependent again, then the child support could return to its original amount.

Contact a DuPage Family Law Attorney

The subject of child emancipation and child support is a tricky one. Each situation is different, and you need an experienced lawyer to guide you through the process. The lawyers at Anderson & Anderson have practiced family law for many years. If you have any questions regarding your child’s emancipation and child support, contact a Wheaton family lawyer today at 630-653-9400 for a free initial consultation.

Sources: 

http://www.cookcountycourt.org/Portals/0/County%20Division/emancipation%20zero%20eight.pdf

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/SupremeCourt/2010/May/109047.pdf

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