Lis and the Single Girl: The Child Support Lowdown

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Single and fabulous? Well then this is the column for you!

Ever wish you had your own personal Carrie Bradshaw to answer your questions — not just about what to do if your boyfriend dumps you via text message — but serious issues that confront us? This special daily edition of “Lis on Law” will address topics that single women are faced and that everybody wonders about — but no one has time to figure out.

Between work, working out, dating and maintaining a social life, it’s tough to find time to do much else. So, read up and prepare to be fully armed for brunch this weekend with your friends with some super conversation topics! Your pals will be amazed!

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Some single girls weren’t always single ... some are newly single following a divorce or death of a spouse. Today’s question is for them.

I receive child support now from my ex-husband — will it continue when my kids go to college? When is he legally allowed to stop payments?

Child support is the set amount of money that the court orders one parent to pay the other parent — typically every month — for the support of the children. Child support payments are generally made until children turn 18 or 19 so long as the child is not “emancipated” (i.e. they are still in high school full time, living at home and can't support themselves).

Your child getting married will usually terminate your ex’s obligation for child support. But there are some states that say a parent’s child support obligation may continue even after the child’s marriage if that child is still dependent on the parents for money. (When does that ever end?!)

You would think that the death of your ex would end his child support obligations. But, under the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, death of the obligated parent doesn’t terminate a child support order. Rather, the payments will become the obligations of the deceased parent’s estate.

Now to the question of college. Many courts have been extending the child support obligation beyond the age of majority if the child is going to attend college. Obligations thus far though have been rather limited. Your ex may be ordered to pay some limited share of the costs directly related to attending college — for example tuition, room and board, etc. But, hey, that can be a huge chunk of change!

If your child is physically or mentally incapacitated and incapable of self-support many states impose child support obligations beyond the age of majority.

Now let’s not assume all men are running out on their kids. There are lots of great dads who want to be involved and resolve matters civily. Remember, parents may always agree to support a child longer than legally necessary (and some really do). If you’re having problems collecting child support stay tuned tomorrow for some legal remedies that could help!

• Have a question for Lis? E-mail her and check back tomorrow for another edition of "Lis and the Single Girl."

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• Administration for Children and Families

• Child Support

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Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. She is currently a professor of law at the New York Law School. Wiehl received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1983 and received her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland in 1985. In addition, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987. Lis is also the author of The 51% Minority — How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It. (Watch the Video) To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.