When parents can agree to provide child support after their children finish high school and start college, courts generally enforce those agreements. However, parents who are not able to agree to support their children beyond their childhood years must use the default rules established by their state’s legislature. In Alabama, the state’s administrative rules determine when child support obligations end.
Alabama’s Department of Human Resources
In Alabama, the legislative child support guidelines provide courts with a presumptive child support amount each parent must pay. Courts may deviate from the guidelines only for cause. The Department of Human Resources in Alabama retains original jurisdiction of child support cases. Alabama’s Child Support Guidelines are codified in Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration. The guideline amounts are based upon the income shares between parents and number of children between them. The guidelines allow parents to adjust their child support payments for work-related day care costs that do not exceed guideline allowances.
Without a written agreement between parents, child support obligations terminate when children reach age 19 in Alabama. Since the child support order based upon the Alabama Child Support Guidelines may take the custodial parent’s day care costs into consideration, parents paying monthly child support may be allowed to pay lesser amounts when their children no longer require day care.
Day Care Modifications
Parents who do not incorporate this language into their support agreement can request a downward modification based upon changed circumstances when the child no longer requires day care. The Alabama Child Support Guidelines provide guideline child care rates by age. For a child who is school age, courts may order parents to continue paying child care costs until age 18 if the child has a documented and certified disability.
Age of Majority
In Alabama, the age of majority or age of adulthood is age 19. However, the age of majority is different when children marry before age 19 or obtain a legal emancipation. If none of these factors exists, then child support obligations may terminate after a child reaches age 19. Judges have discretion to order child support beyond age 19 in cases where the child is disabled and needs care beyond age 19 or when the child’s college expenses necessitate child support.
Since family laws can frequently change, you should not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.