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Plan Ahead If You Know That Your Child Will Need Financial Support Past Age Eighteen


Ordinarily, child support orders stay in effect until the child reaches the age of 18.  If the child is still in high school on his or her 18th birthday, then the child support continues until the child graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever happens first.  It is possible for child support obligations to end early if your child gets married before age 18 or becomes a legally emancipated minor.  It is possible for child support to continue beyond the child’s 19th birthday, but only if the child is genuinely unable to become financially independent of his or her parents because of a chronic health condition.  In other words, if the dispute is about divorced parents paying for an off-campus apartment or a car for a college student, then you and your spouse are on your own to reach an agreement or to go against each other’s wishes.  If the issue is support for an adult son or daughter who truly needs it, though, a Palm Beach County child support lawyer can help.

Meleny’s Story

Meleny is the oldest of four siblings.  Because of a congenital condition called microcephaly, she has severe disabilities, is nonverbal, and requires round-the-clock care.  When Meleny’s parents got divorced, her father got physical custody of her, while her mother got custody of her three younger siblings.  The father paid child support to the mother, and the court calculated the child support based on how much time each child spent with each parent.  The child support order did not, however, account for how the parents were to provide continued financial support for Meleny after she turned 18, even though it was obvious that she would need it.  The judge declined to provide instructions about this, because he believed that it was beyond the jurisdiction of the divorce court.

When Meleny was 17, her father filed a petition to modify child support in light of the change of circumstances, namely that the parents would soon be responsible for a dependent adult.  The court issued an amended child support order shortly after Meleny’s 18th birthday.  The parents entered into a dispute about matters of jurisdiction related to the case, but the appeals court determined that the court that amended the order had the jurisdiction to do so.

The moral of the story is that you are never really finished co-parenting.  If your child has medical special needs and will continue to need financial support as an adult, then the court will help you and your ex-spouse arrive at an arrangement where each spouse pays his or her fair share.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

A Boca Raton child support lawyer can ensure that your ex-spouse fulfills his or her financial responsibility to provide the necessary care for your young adult son or daughter.  Contact Schwartz | White for help today.



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