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West County Family Law - Blog
Joel Case & Sally Rajnoha
West County Family Law

The short answer is age 18*, unless attending vocational or higher education, in which case it can extend to age 21.  If the support is to
extend because the child is pursuing his or her education, some very important requirements must be met or the support could terminate.  A
portion of the Missouri statute (Section 452.340) is set forth below.  Follow it precisely to take advantage of the extension of child support
past age 18 for educational purposes.

*(Another reason for extending support past 18 is if the child is unable to support himself /herself due to a physical or mental disability.  Also,
if, when a child reaches age eighteen (18), the child is enrolled in and attending a secondary school program of instruction, the parental
support obligation shall continue IF the child continues to attend and progresses toward completion of said program, until the child completes
such program OR reaches age twenty-one (21), whichever first occurs.)  

If the child is enrolled in an institution of vocational or higher education not later than October first following graduation from a secondary
school or completion of a graduation equivalence degree program and so long as the child:
    - enrolls for and completes at least twelve (12) hours of credit each semester, not including the summer semester, at an institution of
    vocational or higher education and
    - achieves grades sufficient to reenroll at such institution, the parental support obligation shall continue until the child completes his or
    her education, or until the child reaches the age of twenty-one (21), whichever first occurs.

Important requirements:

for such continued parental support, at the beginning of each semester the child shall submit to each parent a
transcript or similar official document provided by the institution of vocational or higher education which includes:
-  the courses the child is enrolled in and has completed for each term,
-  the grades and credits received for each such course, and
- an official document from the institution listing the courses which the child is enrolled in for the upcoming term and the number of credits for
each such course.   

When enrolled in at least twelve (12) credit hours, if the child receives failing grades in half or more of his or her course load in any one
semester, payment of child support may be terminated and shall not be eligible for reinstatement.

Upon request for notification of the child's grades by the noncustodial parent, the child shall produce the required documents to the
noncustodial parent within thirty days of receipt of grades from the education institution. If the child fails to produce the required documents,
payment of child support may terminate without the accrual of any child support arrearage and shall not be eligible for reinstatement.
If the circumstances of the child manifestly dictate, the court may waive the October first deadline for enrollment required by this subsection. If
the child is enrolled in such an institution, the child or parent obligated to pay support may petition the court to amend the order to direct the
obligated parent to make the payments directly to the child.

As used in this section, an "institution of vocational education" means any postsecondary training or schooling for which the student is
assessed a fee and attends classes regularly. "Higher education" means any community college, college, or university at which the child
attends classes regularly. A child who
has been diagnosed with a developmental disability, as defined in Section 630.005, or whose
physical disability or diagnosed health problem limits the child's ability to carry the number of credit hours prescribed in this subsection, shall
remain eligible for child support so long as such child is enrolled in and attending an institution of vocational or higher education, and the
child continues to meet the other requirements of this subsection.

A child who is employed at least fifteen (15) hours per week during the semester may take as few as nine (9) credit hours per semester and
remain eligible for child support so long as all other requirements of this subsection are complied with.

Section 452.340 Revised Statutes of Missouri, emphasis added