Does Child Support Always Stop When the Child Turns 18?
Each year, roughly $33 billion in child support is paid to families around the nation. If you are one of the many families dealing with child support, you might be wondering how long you can expect to have child support. The answer to this question will depend on a few factors.
Different States Have Various Child Support Rules
The first thing you need to know about child support is that there is no nationwide law in place for when child support ends. Instead, it varies by state. Some states, like Pennsylvania, have the cutoff at 18 while others have it at 19 or 21. In many regions, whether or not the child is in school matters. A child may get support until 19 or 21 in some states if they are still in high school. Typically, your child support will be determined by the state you divorce in. Even if you or the other parent moves to a different state, you may still be bound by the initial child support ruling from your previous home state.
As long as at least one parent is living in the state where the initial child support order was made, that state has jurisdiction over the child support. You will be subject to their rules for when child support ends unless you petition the original state to change your order. If neither parent is living in the state, it is easier to adjust child support. You may be able to petition the court in your new state to get a child support agreement that follows that state’s rules. However, determining jurisdiction for child support can be tricky, so it is a good idea to consult with a divorce lawyer about modifying your agreement.
Children With Special Needs May Require Additional Support
In addition to being in school, another reason for child support after 18 is special needs. When a child has special needs, the court will take this into account with their child support. To continue getting child support after the age of majority, the child must be diagnosed with a mental or physical disability. Furthermore, this disability must be so severe that the child is unable to care for themselves. For example, a deaf child may not need extended child support while a child with severe Down syndrome may need it.
In cases of special-needs child support, there is no set rule for when child support ends. Typically, child support will be an ongoing responsibility that is necessary as long as the child cannot care for themselves. However, these child support duties might not be as extensive as you would assume. Adult children with disabilities are eligible for Social Security benefits, and these benefits will reduce the amount of financial support the parent must pay.
You Have to Follow Any Arrangements From Your Divorce Agreement
When your child support lawyer was helping you finalize your agreement, you may have discussed child support. Many families choose to make their own agreements instead of relying on the basic legal guidelines. In these cases, you will be bound by your divorce agreement. If your agreement included things like paying for support through college, you will be bound by this agreement. While no child support agreement can provide less support than the state deems necessary, the state will not interfere with an agreement that provides more support.
Ultimately, most child support will end at the age of 18, but there are some exceptions that can result in lengthier periods of time for paying child support. Whether you are interested in designing a new child support agreement or modifying your current arrangement, the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner can help. By speaking to a divorce lawyer, you can learn more about your state’s rules and see how child support agreements work. Contact our Jenkintown office at (215) 886-1266 schedule your free consultation today.