One fact of divorce in Alabama, no matter what town or city you call home — Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Decatur, Vestavia Hills or Talladega — alimony and child support are a definite possibility depending on your means and the needs of your soon-to-be-ex spouse. While most individuals will fight hard not to pay alimony to a former partner, paying child support is usually accepted, albeit grudgingly by some.

As a Birmingham family law and divorce lawyer, I understand how some consider child support to be a burden, especially when that party doesn’t get to see the kids on a daily basis. Over time however, even the best provider may ask himself, “do I need to keep paying support for these nearly adult-age kids?”

The fact of the matter is that in Alabama, the age of majority is 19. What this means is that child support comes to an end once that teenager hits 19. (Be careful, though, because there is a provision for post-minority support payments when it comes to helping with college tuition and such). But for our purposes here, 19 is the age at which child support is terminated.

That being said, I have run into situations where people have asked me whether or not an 18-year-old who joins the military or otherwise is on his or her own still qualifies for child support. Does that parent’s obligation to pay support end under these kinds of circumstances?

Simply put, a parent cannot simply cease payments because they feel the child is now functioning as an autonomous individual, and neither does the child support automatically stop. However, Alabama law does provide for these kinds of situations, such as an 18-year-old joining the military.

In such instances, Alabama law allows the parent who is providing child support to file a petition with the court requesting that the child in question be declared “emancipated.” If the court agrees and the petition is granted, then the child support will usually be terminated legally.

Depending on the circumstances, it is possible that a judge will concur that the child is emancipated and subsequently grant the request for termination. Keep in mind that this is completely up to the discretion of the court and is not necessarily guaranteed . As with any family law issue, it’s wise to seek the advice of a qualified legal professional.