Common sense would tell you that child support ends when a child becomes a legal adult at eighteen years old. However, Florida law provides for some circumstances when child support may extend beyond your child’s eighteenth birthday. Before stopping child support payments to your former spouse, be sure to review the unique circumstances of your case with an experienced Florida family law attorney. If you stop child support payments early, it could result in serious penalties and financial distress for you and your child. Call or contact the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg today to schedule a consultation of your case.
Ending Support at Eighteen
The state statute provides that child support should end on your child’s eighteenth birthday. When your child becomes a legal adult, your legal obligation to cover the costs of their wellbeing ends as a parent, subject to the below. If there is more than one minor child involved, upon the emancipation of the older child, if there is not an automatic decrease in child support built into the Final Judgment/Settlement Agreement, the payor may be entitled to a child support reduction.
Extending Support to High School Graduation
However, there are some circumstances where child support does not end at your child’s eighteenth birthday. If your child turns eighteen but has not graduated from high school, the support can be extended to the child’s graduation day.
Special Circumstances for Additional Support
Child support can also continue beyond your child’s eighteenth birthday, regardless of track to graduate from high school. This typically occurs if your child has a physical or mental disability that will render them dependent for years, or permanently, after they become a legal adult. If this situation was known during the divorce, this circumstance is typically addressed in the final divorce agreement. However, if an accident or illness renders your child dependent after the divorce is finalized, your former spouse may request that the court modify your child support agreement to extend for as long as your child has a need. It is important to note, however, a request to extend child support beyond a child’s eighteenth birthday should be filed at least six (6) months prior to their eighteenth birthday. As such, if you are contemplating extending child support beyond the child’s eighteenth birthday, it is critical that you consult with a family law attorney well before the child turns 17 ½ years old.
Finally, although a Florida Court does not have jurisdiction to order parents to share in the higher education expenses of their children, parties are free to enter into their own agreement on the issue. Under such circumstances, it is important to discuss these issues with an experienced family law attorney before contracting yourself to post-majority expenses of a child.
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Child support payments are necessary for the wellbeing of your child while they are still under the care of their parents, but even when your child becomes a legal adult you should not stop payments until you know that your support obligations have ended. To ensure that your support obligations have been met, call or contact the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg to schedule a consultation of your case with an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney today.