Raising a child can be challenging and costly. When a divorce occurs, it
doesn’t make parenting any easier.
Although noncustodial parents don’t have primary custody of their
children, they are responsible for paying
child support to cover the child’s basic needs, including food, shelter, clothing,
education, health care, and any other reasonable expenses. Since monthly
payments can add up, many of these parents cannot wait until their child
turns 18 years old—known as the age of majority.
In California and in most states, child support ends when a child becomes
18 years of age. In other states, the age is 21 or until the child finishes college.
Furthermore, child payments are terminated when the child becomes “emancipated”—or
self-supporting without needing the financial support of his/her parents—prior
to reaching the age of majority. Emancipation occurs when the child marries,
joins the armed services, moves out of the family home, or becomes financially
However, the following are several situations where child support continues
past the age of majority:
The child is still in high school – If the child is still living with a parent and is a full-time
high-school student, then child support payments continue until he/she
turns 19 or graduates from high school.
The child has special needs – If the child is disabled or has special needs, noncustodial parents
may pay support beyond the age of majority to provide proper care. When
a special-needs child has recurring and foreseeable expenses such as medical
and educational costs, custodial parents typically request more child
support to take care of these expenses.
The noncustodial parent agrees to continue making payments – There is nothing in the state law which says child support payments
must stop once the child turns 18. If both parents agree, child support
can continue until a certain date, such as when the child graduates from
college or when the child turns 21 years old. Keep in mind, if child support
past the age of majority and any college costs were not mentioned in the
original court order, the court will not order the noncustodial parent
to make payments beyond the age of majority.
The noncustodial parent owes child support – Just because a child turns 18, doesn’t relieve the noncustodial
parent of any missed payments he/she owes. Even if it takes many years
after the child turns 18, back payments are still due. Failure to pay
owed child support can result in contempt of court, which is punishable
by jail time.
If you are interested in modifying a current child support order in Riverside,
contact our experienced legal team at
Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich today.