Child support payments often stop once the child reaches the age of 18. However, there are situations where parents may have to continue supporting a child who is over the age of 18. As the cost of living keeps rising, parents who pay child support may wonder how long they should budget for this court-ordered obligation.
What does child support cover?
Child support is a court-ordered financial obligation to provide for a child’s basic needs, such as food and clothes, schooling, health care, housing, and other necessities. It is meant to ensure that both divorced parents carry out their legal and moral responsibility of caring for their child.
When does child support go past the age of 18?
Florida law states that all child support orders finalized after October 2010 should end once the child turns 18. However, if the child has not yet graduated high school by then, child support may have to continue until the child is 19. Unless the court determines that the child is dependent on their parents, child support is typically not extended beyond this age or through college.
If the child graduates from high school after turning 18, but before 19, child support will end upon graduation. The payor may also stop making payments by age 18 if the child is not on track to graduate before turning 19.
Child support only extends past the age of 19 if the child has special needs. Mentally or physically incapacitated children may be unable to support themselves through adulthood. If so, the court may decide to extend support to cover the duration of the child’s life.
There are certain cases where child support may end before the child turns 18, such as when the child becomes emancipated, marries, or enlists in the military. When this happens, the court may assume that child support is no longer needed, and the payor can stop providing child support.
Petitioning the court is necessary for parents seeking modification or termination of child support. However, certain requirements must be met prior to the filing and for the court to grant approval. It may be best to consult with a family law attorney for guidance.