A common misconception that majority of people believe is that child support payments automatically stop when a child reaches 18 years old. However, child support laws are different from state to state, such that ending support and graduation don’t necessarily go together.
During a divorce in some states, the court can order a paying parent to provide child support until the child reaches 21 years old. Likewise, majority of states actually require paying parents to pay child support until a child’s high school graduation and in some instances, a child may already be well over 18 years old.
Child Support in Lump Sum
Child support is different from spousal support or alimony. In a lot of states, a waiver for seeking spousal support modification can be legally enforceable. However, a waiver for seeking child support modification is not, even in instances where the waiver was provided in place of a child support payment in lump sum.
Likewise, even if parents agree to a contract concerning child support lump sum payments, it is up to the judge to enforce the child support agreement or not.
Modifying Child Support
Life-changing events including a divorce, separation, injury, health issues, or job loss may warrant modification of a child support order. In this case, a parent can appeal to modify the child support agreement with the help of a St. George attorney. Modifying child support is a court order, and although it won’t immediately end the child support agreement, it will substantially increase or reduce the support payments a parent receives or provides.
Obtaining Legal Advice
Because child support orders don’t end immediately, a paying parent should request for the support payments to end when the child reaches 18 or 21, which is the age of majority in different states or in the event of emancipation.
If you have issues concerning child support orders, you must seek help from an attorney specializing in child support and family law, since every case is different and state laws can vary significantly.