Depending on which state you are in, and your family’s circumstances, child support may be ordered until the child reaches 18 to 21 years of age, whether in secondary school or not. Child support is for the support of the children, including housing, food, clothing, school supplies and school trips. Your child support obligation is only a percentage of what it takes to raise a child. Most states use a formula to determine an equitable distribution of support for each parent.
Your state’s nonage statute determines when child support ends. If your state’s nonage statute determines that a child is considered to be an adult at 18, then child support ceases at some point in the child’s 18th year, less for certain circumstances.
Child Support Age Requirements
If your child is healthy and has no issues that require extra care, child support stops at 18 years of age, unless the child is still in secondary school, or high school. In most states, Florida for example, child support continues while the child is in high school, as long as the child has a “reasonable expectation of graduation before his 19th birthday.” If the child stayed back a year, child support stops on the child’s 18th birthday.
Sometimes a child works full time or moves out of the parent’s home before graduating from high school. If a child is working full time, or even part time, you can petition the court to decrease child support -- a downward modification of support, but the child must keep the job. If the job is seasonal, the downward modification will most likely not be granted, as she is not emancipated. If a child marries while still in high school, the child is emancipated, child support, depending on your state, stops. Most states, even though the child is still in high school or under the age of 18, will stop the child support. If the child joins the armed forces, he also is considered to be emancipated, and support will stop.
In most states, the statutes provide child support up until the age of 21, whether the child is in school, if the child has a disability. Children with disabilities often need extra medical care and both parents are expected to provide for that child until she reaches at least 21 years of age. Depending on the disability, you may be required to pay child support even after the age of 21, if your ex-spouse petitions the court for it, and the child’s disability is debilitating enough.