In the United States, age 18 is when a child is considered to become a legal adult. Because of this, many mistakenly believe that parents are only required to financially support their children until the children turn 18. For a married couple or a single parent with no child support
order, this is true. But if there is a child support order in place, the paying parent is not necessarily relieved of his or her obligation on the child’s 18th birthday. If the child is still in high school when he or she turns 18, child support must continue until he or she graduates or turns 19, whichever comes first.
There are other circumstances under which child support can extend past 18. There are also circumstances under which a parent’s obligation can be terminated before the child’s 18th birthday.
Extending Child Support Into Adulthood
Young adults with mental and physical disabilities that prevent them from becoming financially self-sufficient can continue to receive child support into adulthood. When children are born with disabilities or become disabled at young ages, their child support orders typically stipulate that support will continue into adulthood. For children disabled after their support orders are established, parents may need to modify their child support orders to extend support past 18 and this could require demonstrating to the court that the disability is substantial enough to prevent the child from becoming self-supporting. If a young adult is disabled after he or she turns 18 and child support is terminated, a new child support order may not be opened for him or her.
Florida law permits the court to require parents to contribute to their adult children’s college expenses. This is not child support. This is instead a requirement the court may make if it deems it to be in the child’s best interest, a conclusion it may reach if the child shows academic aptitude and the court finds that the parents would likely have contributed to the child’s college bill if they had remained married.
Terminated Child Support Before 18
It is also possible to terminate child support before a child turns 18. Circumstances that can lead to this include:
The child becoming emancipated;
The child getting married; and
The child entering the United States military.
In these scenarios, the child is considered to be self-supporting.
Draper Law Office Represents Parents Seeking and Modifying Child Support Orders
To learn more about child support in Florida and discuss your case in greater detail with an experienced family lawyer, contact our team at Draper Law Office today at (866) 767-4711 or through our website to set up your free, no-obligation legal consultation in our office. We have three convenient office locations to better serve you: St. Cloud, Orlando, and Kissimmee.