When Will my Child Support End in Florida?

Traditionally, when people heard the term “child support,” they thought of monthly payments lasting until the age of 18. However, with the rising costs of postsecondary education, many parents wonder whether they may be entitled to child support throughout their child’s college years. The answer to this question will depend on your particular situation, and an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney can help evaluate your case and help you obtain the payments you need to support your children.

Child Support Ending at Age 18

The Florida statute that governs child support states that, unless the parties agree otherwise, monthly support payments will end on the child’s 18th birthday. If there is more than one child involved, the amount of monthly child support will reduce proportionally as each child turns 18. These dates should all be set out in the final court order regarding child support.

Child Support Ending at Age 19

There are limited circumstances under which child support may be extended beyond age 18, potentially until the child reaches the age of 19. These cases depend on what age the child will be when he or she graduates from high school, as follows:

  • Child graduates high school before age 18 = support ends on 18th birthday
  • Child graduates high school after turning 18, but before turning 19 = support ends at graduation
  • Child graduates after turning 19 = support ends on 19th birthday
  • Child is not on track for high school graduation before age 19 = support ends on 18th birthday
Child Support Continuing Beyond Age 19

Florida law allows child support to continue beyond age 19—and potentially indefinitely—if that child has special needs that renders them dependent, which includes mental or physical incapacitation. If your child has special needs prior to the child support order, you should make sure the situation regarding extended support is properly addressed in the order. If a child becomes incapacitated at a later date but before age 18, you should always seek a modification of the order that will eliminate the original termination date due to special needs. Once your child turns 18, you cannot go back and seek extended child support, even for dependency.

Florida courts have ruled that nothing in the law prevent orders that extend through postsecondary education to finance college expenses. However, most courts will not order such support against a party’s wishes unless the court finds the child is actually dependent on the parents. Simply because a child is enrolled in college courses is generally not enough for a finding of actual dependency. It is always a good idea for parents to work together to come to a support agreement that covers postsecondary education in order to provide the best possible opportunities for their child.

Child support determinations are highly important to ensure that your children receive the upbringing they deserve. If you are facing divorce or wish to modify an existing child support order, do not hesitate to contact experienced Boca Raton family lawyer Alan R. Burton for assistance today.