When Does Child Support End?
Child support is mandatory in the state of Florida. It doesn’t matter if the parents of a minor child ever married or even lived together. “In the best interest of the child” is the standard for the Florida Statutes regarding the care and nurturing of minor children, and child support is an important part of being able to maintain that standard. Each parent is expected to participate in the life and development of any minor child they brought into this world or legally adopted. It costs money to do the job correctly and the Florida courts work hard to see that parents contribute fairly to the cost of raising their children.
Of course there comes a time when a minor child is no longer considered a minor and parents no longer are responsible for their direct care under the law. However, there are times when parents need to continue supporting a child on into adulthood and so child support will be adjudicated to fit the individual circumstance. The following points will give an idea of when child support ends and when it must continue indefinitely.
- When a child turns l8 years of age, in the state of Florida, the child becomes an adult under the law. While at this age the individual is often far from living on their own or even acting as an adult should act, the law considers them to be able to do so. Therefore, at this age child support is no longer a legal requirement unless there are extenuating circumstances.
- If a child is 18 and actively enrolled in high school and is anticipated to graduate on or before their l9th birthday, child support must continue until the day of graduation or the child stops attending school.
- If a child has a serious physical or mental condition occurring before the age of l8 which does not allow the child to live on their own, seek gainful employment, and/or become educated or trained to earn a living, child support then becomes necessary on an ongoing basis unless or until the condition requiring continued child support changes allowing adult functioning of the child. It is most important to understand that a petition for modification of child support must be filed before the child’s l8th birthday in order for a continuation to be court ordered. Under no circumstances will a court open a case for continuation of child support after a child turns l8.
- Another extenuating circumstance is when a child over the age of l8 attends a college or university and continues as a legal dependent of their parent (s). Most states make no provisions for child support while a child is attending college unless there is a written agreement between the parents. However, Florida does allow for some exceptions. Each case is determined on an individual need basis and again must be petitioned for modification before the age of l8.
- If a child is emancipated by the court so is no longer under parental control child support will stop.
- If a child dies, marries, or joins the armed forces, child support stops.
As with so many questions involving Family Law matters each individual situation needs special attention to have the correct answer for their particular case. It is best to contact an attorney experienced in Family Law to get answers to your questions regarding the stopping of child support. If you live in Florida in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, or Hillsborough counties or in Washington DC Family Law attorney Grant Gisondo offers a free, in-office initial consultation where he will meet with you personally to answer these questions and share what he can do to help. His office is located in Palm Beach Gardens and you can call (561) 530-4568 for an appointment.