Many people believe that child support stops when the child reaches the age of majority (18 in most states). This may be true, but there are situations where you may have to continue making the payments well beyond that age. This is usually the case if the court believes that there is a need for the continued payments. Here are some circumstances that may necessitate this:
The Child Reaches 18 Before Completing High School
Child support is expected to cover the child's expenses while he or she is in high school. This is because high school kids are expected to live with their parents, and the custodian parent will still need this payment. Most people graduate from high school by the age of 18, but this is not always the case. Exigent circumstances, such as illness, may prolong your child's stay in high school.
For this reason, the court may order you to continue making the payments until the child graduates. This usually happens when the other parent files a petition seeking an extension of the payments.
The Child Is Disabled
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, parents living with disabled children may also need child support even when they have reached the age of majority. This included both physical and mental disability. Of course, this may only be the case is the disability means that the child cannot support himself of herself financially.
For example, a child with spinal arachnoiditis may need financial support even if he or she is an adult. This is a very painful disease occasioned by the inflammation of the spinal cord. A person with spinal arachnoiditis may find it difficult to hold one posture for an extended period, which makes it difficult to work.
Depending on your state, your support payments may be determined by your state's child support laws or the needs of the child. Of course, your respective earning capabilities will not be ignored too.
The Child is Attending College
Lastly, some states also allow child support to continue for children attending college. This is likely to be the case if the money is being used for paying post-secondary education. This may also be the case if you included a college support clause in your child support agreement.
The good news is that the court will help to mitigate these expenses. For example, it may require the child to fill financial aid applications forms for which he or she is eligible.
As you can see, there are several situations that preclude automatic child support cancellation when a child reaches the age of majority. If you have the means, then it makes sense to continue supporting your child even without a court's order. Also, each situation is different, and the input of a family law expert may help provide clarity.