How Long Do I Have To Pay Child Support?
In Florida, couples are only allowed to finalize their divorces when they have contended with a number of divorce-related issues, including property division and alimony. If, however, a couple shares children, then they must also grapple with child custody and child support. The latter can be especially complicated, requiring parents to carefully calculate their incomes and expenses before breaking down how much time their child will actually be in their custody. In most cases, child support must be paid until a child turns 18 years old. There are, however, a few situations in which support can be extended.
Child Support Generally
In Florida, family law courts can order one or both of a child’s parents to make monthly payments to financially support their child, either to the other parent or to a third party custodian. How much a person has to pay in child support depends on his or her income, expenses, and the custody arrangement the family puts in place. In most cases, it is the non-custodial parent who must pay child support to the custodial parent, or the parent with the majority of time-sharing responsibility.
When Does the Obligation End?
Florida child support orders typically remain in place until a child turns 18 years old, at which point the paying parent is no longer legally required to make monthly child support payments. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule. For instance, it is possible to extend child support until a child turns 19 years old, but only if the child in question is still in high school. A child who is not on track to graduate before turning 19 years old would generally not qualify for this exception. Otherwise, when a child turns 19 or graduates from high school, the paying parent’s obligation will end.
There is also an exception, under which child support can be extended, when the child being supported has a mental or physical incapacity that:
- Began before the child reached the age of majority; and
- Makes it impossible for the child to become financially self-supporting.
In these cases, a child’s parents could end up needing to pay child support on a permanent basis.
Modifying Child Support
Child support awards can also be modified if either of a child’s parents experience a significant change in circumstances, like an unanticipated job loss or a demotion that results in a loss of income, or the onset of a medical condition. A change in the custody arrangement, like a non-custodial parent spending more overnight visits with a child could also be enough to justify a modification of child support.
Reach Out to a Florida Child Support Lawyer
If you have questions about your child support obligations, or think you may qualify for a modification of your current award, please call dedicated Florida child support attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today for help. Initial consultations are offered free of charge, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us by phone or online message.