By James Jennings
It is very common for most people that have an order for child support to pay that support until the child turns eighteen. Now there are some circumstances when that support obligation goes beyond the child’s eighteenth birthday.
One example is the child’s eighteenth birthday is in February but the child does not graduate from high school until May of that same year. Another example is the child is disabled in such a way that they can never obtain employment and has to be cared for the rest of their lives. But what about circumstances when child support can end before the child’s eighteenth birthday?
This is were the state’s emancipation laws play a role. In some situations and by the approval of the court, a person who is obligated to pay support can have that support order end before the child’s eighteenth birthday.
In Arizona back in 2005, the legislator decided that in order for a child to become emancipated, the child must be at least sixteen years old and meet a few of the following criteria in order to demonstrate their independence:
1. The child isn’t already married.
2. The child is both a U.S. resident and a resident of Arizona.
3. The child needs to have sufficient financial means to provide for himself or herself. The child can’t be getting things like medical care, food or housing from the parents.
4. The child needs to understand that all legal obligations that the parents have to care for the child are ended forever if emancipation is granted.
5. Typically, the child needs to be more than three months away from his or her 18th birthday. This process usually takes around 12 weeks, so applying with less time remaining is unnecessary.
6. The child is ready to tell his or her parents, and the child has read the official document titled “Information on Emancipation in Arizona.”
The law governing child emancipation is Ariz.Rev.Stat. 12-2451 and all petitions for child emancipation are filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county in which the child resides. The case is then adjudicated in Juvenile Court for that county.
The child seeking emancipation must show proof:
1. That he or she has been living apart from their parents for a least three months or;
2. A statement explaining why the home of their parent(s) or guardian(s) is not safe or healthy or;
3. A signed, notarized consent to your emancipation from a parent or guardian.