After a divorce or separation, child support payments are meant to fund the costs of your child’s basic needs, including food, clothing, education, health care and housing. Unless both parties agree to continue them, these monthly payments normally stop when the child turns 18. There are also certain situations where Florida law allows parents to continue supporting their children past 18.
Child support orders issued after October 2010 must include termination or end dates. Its purpose is to make the order’s expiration date clear and spare parents from having to go back to court. However, certain judges may still sign orders with no end dates.
When child support lasts until the age of 19
Typically, parents are no longer obligated to pay child support after the child’s 18th birthday. However, the child’s education may play a factor in extending payments until they are 19.
Many children turn 18 before finishing high school. They might still be unable to provide for themselves by then, making financial support necessary. In such cases, the court may order their parents to continue paying support until the child graduates.
The maximum age for receiving child support is 19. If the child is not expected to finish high school before turning 19, child support payments may end when they turn 18.
When child support lasts beyond age 19
Parents may need to continue paying child support indefinitely if the child is mentally or physically incapacitated before turning 18. The court recognizes that a child with special needs or disability may have difficulty supporting themselves in adulthood. Therefore, a judge may obligate parents to continue their responsibility for the duration of the child’s life.
When child support stops before the age of 18
There are very specific criteria where parents may no longer be obligated to provide financial support. The court may presume that support is no longer necessary if the child becomes emancipated, marries or joins the military. In such cases, parents may discontinue payments before the child is 18 but not earlier than 16.
Certain situations can complicate establishing an end date for child support payments. Talking to a family law attorney might help ensure your child’s needs are met, and your concerns are answered.