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Ending Child Support Payments Early Or Late

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In the significant majority of divorce cases which involve child support, those payments will terminate on the child’s 18th birthday, which should (at least in theory) be listed in the divorce decree as the date of cessation of payments. However, there are certain sets of circumstances under which support can be terminated either early or late. Depending on the facts of your family’s situation, it can be a good idea to know the facts of the Florida support statutes so you will not be ambushed by additional fees or caught off guard by having more income than you are used to.

Ending Support Payments Early

While it is somewhat more unusual than payments ending late, there are occasions when child support payments are discontinued before the child’s 18th birthday. Generally, the reasons are all due to the child taking on a status that signifies adulthood, and as such, self-support is considered not only possible but required. The most common reasons are that a child either marries or joins the military before they reach the age of 18 – by doing either of these, a minor child is officially being supported by someone else, at least in terms of basic necessities, therefore it is appropriate to lower or eliminate the support amount going to the custodial parent.

Another reason that sometimes does occur is that a minor will apply for and receive emancipated status, which, in the words of the statute, “removes the disabilities of nonage” for those 16 and older. Under Florida law, minors cannot do things like enter into legally binding contracts, and in cases where this poses a problem, the minor may seek emancipation, which will essentially grant them adult status for purposes of actions like contract formation. By definition, an adult child is not required to be supported (unless they are disabled to an extent where they cannot support themselves), and thus payments would end.

Ending Support Payments Late

Ending one’s child support payments later than your child’s 18th birthday is much more common in this day and age, there are a variety of reasons why this might be the case, essentially exceptions to the law. Perhaps the most often seen is if your child has not yet turned 18 before they finish high school, support payments are supposed to continue until graduation has occurred or the child turns 19, whichever is first in time.

Another common reason for support to continue is disability, either temporary or permanent. In order to continue receiving support payments, it must be shown that the disability it actively contributes to the child’s inability to support themselves; the law purports to limit this to “severe” disabilities, but in reality, as long as the issue contributes to dependency on the child’s part, Florida courts generally approve the extension of support payments, at least temporarily.

Ask An Experienced Attorney For Help

Most of the time, a noncustodial parent’s child support payments will end exactly when they are anticipated to end, on the child’s 18th birthday. But it can be helpful to know that there are situations in which the date may change. If you have more questions, contacting the Hollywood child support attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. may help clear them up. Contact the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. for legal advice at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.

Resources:

leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0743/Sections/0743.015.html

leagle.com/decision/19901678564so2d111411413

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