February 2020 | COA 19-524 (N.C. Ct. App. 2020)

Morris v. Powell (North Carolina 2020)

Child support does not end until a child is legally emancipated. A seventeen-year-old child moved out of his mother’s home, and the father stopped paying support. The mother filed a petition for contempt and for a judgment on the arrears. The father filed to terminate support as of the date the child moved out, arguing that the child constructively emancipated. The trial court granted the father’s motion to terminate support and found the father was not in contempt for willful nonpayment. The mother appealed. The appellate court reversed on the issue of terminated support, rejecting the father’s argument for a broader definition of emancipation. The appellate court found the legislature clearly set out a judicial process for emancipation. The child’s actions weren’t the enough to emancipate him. The appellate court upheld the trial court’s finding that father wasn’t in contempt.

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