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How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support in Alabama


Navigating the issue of child support can be complex and sometimes controversial, whether you’re going through a divorce or as an unwed parent. Child support laws vary from state to state, and Alabama is no exception. One of the common questions that parents have is how long child support payments will last in Alabama.

Understanding the duration of your child support obligation is essential regardless of whether you’re a custodial or non-custodial parent. This article will discuss child support obligations to help ensure that you comply with the law and that your child’s financial needs are met.

What is Child Support?

One of the primary obligations parents have to their children is to support them financially. The issue of financial support primarily comes up when the parents aren’t in a relationship. A child support case can be brought up during a divorce or independently if you and your child’s other parent weren’t married.

Child support is intended to ensure the child’s financial needs are met and is not intended to be used for the expenses of the parent receiving the child support payments. 

Calculating Child Support in Alabama

Alabama child support guidelines determine how much child support a parent should pay. The courts use the income-shares model when calculating child support to ensure that the standard of support is fair and consistent.

This means that they will combine the income of both parents as if they lived in the same household. They will then estimate how much the child would receive if the family was together and divide it proportionately based on each parent’s income. 

How Long Does Child Support Last in Alabama?

In Alabama, the age of majority is 19 (Ala. Code § 26-1-1 (2022)). However, an Alabama court may end child support under certain circumstances before the child reaches 19.

Here are some other instances when a court may end child support payments.

  • Sole physical custody is granted to the paying parent
  • The child is legally emancipated before the age of majority
  • The child gets married
  • The child joins the military
  • The child dies
  • The parent paying support can prove the child can support themself
  • The parent paying support loses or terminates their parental rights

There are instances, however, when parents may continue to be financially responsible for the child past the age of majority, including if the child is disabled and will require support when they become adults. 

Modifying an Alabama Child Support Order

Circumstances change, and in the instance of a significant change, either parent can request a modification to an existing child support order in Alabama. The courts require proof that the change isn’t temporary and that it will affect the amount of child support under the guidelines.

Some circumstances that can justify a modification include the following:

  • The paying parent has been fired or gotten a new job with a significantly higher salary.
  • The amount of time each parent spends with the child has permanently changed.
  • The needs of the child have changed significantly.
  • A parent has become permanently disabled.

Per Alabama law (Ala. Rules Jud. Admin., rule 32(A)(3) (2022)), a modification may be appropriate if there is a 10% or higher difference between the current support order and the new calculation. However, it’s important to remember that even if the difference meets this variation, that doesn’t automatically mean that the support order will be changed. 

Turn to Brackin Law Firm for Representation in Your Child Support Matters

Although child support obligations typically end when the child turns 19, certain circumstances can affect the duration of payments. It’s essential to understand your rights and responsibilities as a parent and seek the assistance of an experienced child support lawyer to ensure you and your co-parent comply with the law. Working together, parents can provide a stable, supportive environment for their child to grow up in.

For over four decades, the team at Brackin Law Firm has provided comprehensive legal representation tailored to each client’s needs. We will take the time to help you understand your legal issues and how the law may affect your case. Our team will work tirelessly to help you achieve your goals and favorable resolutions.

Contact us today for a consultation.

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