The general rule in Florida is that child support terminates when a child reaches 18 years of age. However, the general rule does not apply when child support is still owed for any time prior to the child’s reaching adult legal status. Under those circumstances, the custodial parent generally retains the right to collect on the overdue balance owed. In terms of procedure, to collect any outstanding child support payments, the custodial parent must obtain a Court order signed by a Judge. Even if the debtor parent is not currently able to make the payments, the Court order preserves the right of the custodial parent to make a claim on future money earned for back child support. To make sure that a Court order is properly obtained, custodial parents in Jacksonville would benefit from retaining the services of an experience Jacksonville family attorney.
Florida Also Provides an Exception in Instances When a Child of Legal Age Has Not Yet Graduated from High School
Florida’s child support statute found at Florida Statute §61.30, also contains a provision that extends child support until the child graduates from high school, if there is a reasonable expectation of graduating before his or her 19th birthday. If there is no reasonable expectation that the child will graduate before their 19th birthday, child support will terminate automatically upon the child turning 18 years old.
Florida Provides an Additional Exception for Children Who Are Handicapped or Have Special Needs
Florida has another exception for the custodial parent of a child with special needs. If your child has special needs, and incapable of ever becoming self-supporting, then Florida will not terminate child support. Under these conditions, upon request by the custodial parent, the child support will be ordered to last for the life of the child. There are specific legal requirements that must be followed to get a child support order that lasts for the life of the child. The child’s special needs status must be recognized in a Court order, whether through a first-time order or a later modification. It is important to note, that you must get a Court order recognizing the child’s special needs or disability status before the child turns 18 years old. If you do not request the child support to continue before the child turns 18 years old, you forfeit the right to reopen the case to continue child support. Your Jacksonville family attorney can assist you in getting an Order requiring the other parent to pay child support for your disabled child for the life of the child.
What to do If You Are Owed Past Due Child Support for a Child That is Now an Adult
If your former spouse or the non-custodial parent is refusing to pay child support on the basis that your child is now of legal age, contact your Jacksonville family attorney to find out your rights. Know your rights; just because your child has reached the age of 18, a debtor parent can still be compelled to make good on their past due obligation for child support. Consulting your Jacksonville family attorney to make sure a Court order is properly obtained will preserve your right to collect on child support that is still owed to you in the future.
About the Author
B. Elaine Jones is a licensed Florida attorney who has been practicing family law, guardianship law and criminal law for over 25 years in Florida. Ms. Jones is an associate with the Law Office of David M. Goldman in Jacksonville, Florida. Ms. Jones previously had a solo practitioner firm in Hillsborough County and joined Attorney Goldman’s firm in November of 2020. You can contact Ms. Jones at the Law Office of David M. Goldman for a free initial consultation in most cases.