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Will my children’s child support end when they turn 18?

Child support payments are necessary for many parents in Florida. The money helps pay for youngsters’ food, clothing and housing, to name a few essentials. One concern parents may have is whether the payments stop when their child turns 18. After all, the child might still be in high school and living at home, or have college plans.

The short answer is that, yes, the child support payments stop. However, that is not the entire picture, and it is possible to arrange for them to continue.

Agreements between the parents

In a common scenario, child support payments extend beyond age 18 when both parents agree that they should. This can happen for many reasons: for example, to help pay for college, to ensure care for a child with a disability or to maintain stability for a child who is still in high school. The agreement has to be entirely voluntary, and as such, parents have a lot of leeway. They might agree on the support continuing only until the child graduates from high school, or that college contribution costs will be capped at a certain amount or continued only if the child meets a minimum GPA.

This agreement may either be part of a parenting plan or a separate arrangement. In fact, some financial but non-child-support agreements go into parenting plans for children under 18. These are generally for voluntary payments, such as one parent agreeing to pay for music lessons (a payment that would not be covered under child support). These lesson payments could continue past the child turning 18.

By order of a judge

Sometimes a child has special needs, and a judge decides to extend child support past when the child turns 18. This does not happen often, though, and different judges view matters differently. Parents should not rely on the courts to make this extension decision.

A lawyer can help make a case in front of a judge for the necessity of extended child support. Likewise, an attorney can assist in drawing up an agreement between parents for voluntary child support past the time a child would turn 18.

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