Under most circumstances, a Florida parent’s child support
obligation ends when the child turns 18. If the child is still in high school on his or her 18th
birthday, child support may continue until he or she graduates from high school or turns 19.
When a child has a physical or mental disability that makes it impossible for him or her to become a self-sufficient adult, child support may be extended into his or her adulthood. How long support continues and how much the parent is required to pay depend on the adult child’s needs – if he or she can hold a job or moves into a group home for disabled adults, the parent’s support obligation may decrease. It is possible for a child support order to remain in place for the remainder of the parent or child’s life.
Writing a Child Support Extension into your Divorce Settlement
Talk to your spouse about including language in your divorce settlement that extends support for your special needs child into his or her adulthood. Have this conversation with your lawyer as well – even if your spouse does not agree to extending your child’s support, the court could deem such support to be in your child’s best interest. Your child’s special needs, while he or she is a minor and as an adult, can also force the court to deviate from its normal child support formula to determine an appropriate amount for him or her.
Defining the Terms of your Special Needs Child’s Care
You can also include requirements for the continued child support in your divorce settlement, such as what it will cover and any circumstances that can terminate the order.
Alternatives and Supplements to Extended Child Support
Some parents opt to create trust funds to provide for their adult children with special needs after they pass away. This can be a way to ensure that a disabled adult continues to receive the care he or she needs when his or her parents can no longer provide it. Many parents who extend child support for their children also establish this type of trust.
When a child with special needs becomes an adult, he or she can potentially qualify for Social Security benefits. These benefits can be a supplement to child support or even replace it completely, depending on circumstances like how much money the person receives from the Social Security Administration, whether he or she works, and whether he or she lives with a parent, in a group home, or independently.
Work with Draper Law Office to Create a Useful Child Support Order for your Special Needs Child
If you are a parent of a child with special needs, discuss your child’s needs and the expenses associated with them with an experienced divorce lawyer. Your child’s disability will make it necessary to approach child support differently than a parent of a non-disabled child would approach the issue. Contact Draper Law Office today online or at (866) 767-4711 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation in one of our three office locations.