When Will My Child Support Obligation End?
One common question we hear regularly from divorcing parents is how long they can expect to continue paying child support. In most cases, the answer to this question is dependent on when a child reaches the age of 18 years old. However, a dedicated Clearwater child support modification lawyer can give you a better understanding of the nuances of your child support obligation.
The Age of Majority
A divorce doesn’t terminate the parental obligation to financially provide for one’s child. This obligation, however, isn’t permanent, but will end when a child is deemed old enough to support him or herself. Generally, when a child reaches the age of 18 years old, which is considered the age of majority in Florida, his or her parents will no longer be obligated to make monthly child support payments. A child’s 18th birthday is not, however, always the cutoff date for child support. There are actually a few different circumstances under which a parent can be required to continue providing financial support to a child after he or she turns 18 years old.
Graduation from High School
Under state law, a parent’s duty to continue paying child support can be extended if, when a child turns 18 years old, he or she has not yet graduated from high school. In these instances, the parent ordered to pay support can expect to continue doing so until the child turns 19 years old. However, to qualify for this exception, the parent seeking support will need to prove that the child has a reasonable expectation of graduating, which means that he or she:
- Is enrolled in a school;
- Has been regularly attending that school; and
- Will meet the requirements of graduation.
Under these rules, a child who dropped out of high school at the age of 17 years old, or who is still several years away from graduating, wouldn’t qualify for continued support.
Physical or Mental Incapacity
Another exception under which a child can continue to receive financial support after reaching the age of 18 years old is when he or she has a mental or physical incapacity. In these situations, the parent could be required to continue to provide financial support. This, however, is only required if the disability:
- Began before the child reached the age of 18 years old; and
- Makes it impossible for the child to become self-supporting.
When a child’s condition qualifies as a disability under this definition, then his or her parents could be ordered to provide financial support on a permanent basis. However, for this to be possible, the parent seeking support must request an extension before the child turns 18 years old.
Talk to a Clearwater Child Support Modification Lawyer
If you have questions about your own child support obligations, or need help modifying a current support order, please call 727-683-1472 and set up a meeting with one of the dedicated attorneys at Cairns Law today. You can also reach a member of our legal team via online message.