Contrary to common belief, child support does not necessarily end when a child turns 18. In fact, child support doesn't end until a family court judge says so. This court order can be made once a child turns 18, graduates high school, gets married or is emancipated. Until then, however, child support obligations must be kept current.
Depending on the circumstances, some divorced parents may request that child support continues from the paying parent long after the child has reached adulthood. This may be the case when the child goes to college and needs additional support for educational expenses, housing or medical coverage.
Just like the court order to discontinue child support, the order to continue child support for adult children must be made by the family court judge. Numerous factors are considered before awarding child support for an adult child. If it's meant to cover educational expenses, a family court may consider the incomes of both parents, the accessibility of financial aid and scholarships and the child's academic performance before awarding continued child support.
Unlike traditional child support for minor children, child support for adult children is paid directly to the adult child and is subject to the same enforcement as typical child support orders. This type of ongoing support may continue until an adult child receives their degree or until a family court judge discontinues its enforcement.
Making the decision to continue child support for adult children while in college takes special consideration. It is important for parents to understand that no change can be made to a child support order without first receiving the approval of the family court. Working with an experienced family law attorney can help divorced parents determine if continued child support is right for their situation.