Does a child’s disability affect when child support ends?

If you have a child who has a disability or other special needs, you undoubtedly have additional child-related expenses you must pay. These may include private tutoring, home modifications, medical equipment or other items your child needs to thrive.

After your divorce, you may expect to make child support payments to cover the costs of raising your kids. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse cannot reach an acceptable agreement, a judge is likely to use the income shares model to set support payments.

When do payments typically end?

In most child support matters, support payments end when the child turns 18. If your child is still in school on his or her 18th birthday, a judge may order you to pay child support until your child graduates or reaches the age of 20.

On the other hand, if your child support obligation stems from a contract you have with your ex-spouse, your support payments end when the contract says they do. This may be when your child turns 18 or well after.

When do payments end for children with disabilities?

Disability does not by itself affect when child support payments come to an end. If your child does not have the mental or physical ability to support himself or herself, you may voluntarily choose to extend financial support. Absent a contract or court order, though, you probably have no legal obligation to do so.

Ultimately, if you worry about your child’s well-being after losing your support payments, you may want to look into his or her eligibility for means-tested government benefits, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.