In a typical divorce involving children without joint custody, there will be one parent who pays child support. Normally, that parent would be the one who the child does not live with full time. The most common belief is that after the child turns 18, the child support ends. However, it is not always that easy. When the child turns into a legal adult, they do not have to abide by the typical rules of visitations and holidays… they have a new choice in that. However, child support can be a little trickier, and depends on a few factors.
Terms of Child Support
When the child support contract was created, there may be a clause saying that it ends when the child turns 18, which is called the “age of majority”, or when the child becomes a legal adult. In this case, no more child support would be paid past the age of 18. In other cases, however, the stipulation of child support would end after some sort of life event, such as graduation from high school. Both of these are typically decided by the terms of your child support, as well as state law. You can see an overview of each state’s law here. You can also create the terms of child support to say that child support will continue well past the age of emancipation, i.e., while the child is in college. According to the National Conference of State Legislators:
Some state laws give courts the power to award college support beyond the age of majority, also called post-secondary or post-minority support. College support may be in addition to child support, a part of child support, or a separate payment after regular child support ends. Other states have no statutes holding parents responsible for college support; however, parents may include provisions for a college education in the child support agreement.
How Many Children There Are
In many cases, there is more than one child between the two parents, meaning that there is more than one child being covered by child support. In this case, once one child comes into terms where child support is no longer needed, then there can be modification for the other children. The terms of child support may change for the other children. The income of the parent paying has a big impact on this. For example, if you are paying $300 a month for three children, when one becomes of age, then your payment would be cut to paying that amount to the two remaining underage children. If you are paying a lump sum, you may have to keep paying that sum until you can get a court order. There, they will reduce the payments accordingly.
While the termination of child support after the age of 18 is the law in most states, this changes when the child has a mental or physical disability. The typical requirement is that the child has a disability recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Every state has their own take on this law, and you can find them all here. Usually, the age of 21 is when child support can be ended, with exceptions for certain circumstances.
If you have a special circumstance, or have specific questions about child support, contact Revelli and Luzzo Attorneys at Law in Worcester, MA. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have on this topic.