Paying Child Support For A Child Over 18
In Florida, there is a statute on the books which requires that all child support orders contain an end date, which is usually the child’s 18th birthday. However, there are situations in which child support may be extended past that date, if the child is held to still qualify as dependent under the relevant law. If you are in a situation where you may be on the proverbial hook for support past a child’s 18th birthday, it is important to understand why, or what your options may be for trying to lessen the obligation.
Why Do I Owe Child Support?
A child in Florida has the right to support from both their parents, and that right belongs only to the child. Normally, the parents’ support obligation will last from the time of their divorce to the child’s 18th birthday. However, a big part of the reason why child support obligations exist at all is because children are naturally dependent on their parents. If that state of dependence exists after age 18 – and it can, for a variety of reasons – Florida law considers it appropriate to extend parents’ support obligations.
It is worth noting that many Florida child support orders do not have end dates, either because they are too old (pre-2010), or because the judge in the case simply declined to ensure an end date existed on the order. These orders are still valid, and in order to cease one’s support obligation in these cases, a court order will be required. However, there are also reasons why support will be affirmatively extended by the court.
Must Support Continue?
The two most common reasons for child support to be extended past a child’s 18th birthday are (1) if that child is disabled – the statute refers to being “dependent due to mental or physical incapacity”; and (2) if the child is still living at home, attending high school, and reasonably expects to graduate before they turn 19 years old. If either of these scenarios are true in your situation, Florida law holds that support must continue.
There can be some debate as to the meaning of ‘dependent,’ especially if the child is not disabled to the point of receiving supplemental security insurance (SSI, or “disability”). However, Florida law will generally accept even “modest” forms of disability as sufficient to extend support obligations for parents. A child in this position cannot support themselves, and that is the most prevailing concern for the state.
Contact A Hollywood Child Support Attorney
Florida courts take child support obligations seriously, and if your child may require support beyond the age of 18, it is important that you are aware of your options. A Hollywood child support attorney is a must to have on your side, and the Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. can help you to understand how best to proceed if that obligation has become an issue. Contact our offices today at (954) 963-5900 for personalized attention.