When does child support end in Florida?

When does child support end in Florida?

I get this question in every dissolution of marriage with children or paternity case I handle. There are four answers to the question of “When does child support end in Florida?”

  1. When the child turns eighteen;
  2. When the child turns nineteen;
  3. Sometime after the child turns eighteen; or
  4. Never.

Clear as mud, huh? That is because lawyers wrote the law!

Child support ends when a child turns eighteen years of age.

Under normal circumstances, if your child support order was entered after 2010, it is supposed to state the date a when child support ends. The key phrase here is “supposed to.” I still see orders after 2010 that do not have a date when child support ends.

If you have one child, the termination date will be that child’s eighteenth birthday. If you have more than one child, child support will be reduced when the oldest child turns eighteen. Child support decreases again when the next child turns eighteen, and so on until the child support obligation ceases forever.

So what do you do if you have more than one child and the order says nothing about when child support ends? When your first child turns eighteen, you can reopen your case and recalculate child support. In this subsequent order, make sure you have a schedule for child support decreases as each child turns eighteen. Writing this into your order provides you with definate dates as to when does child support end or decrease. You can, however, voluntarily continue to pay the higher child support amount.

You do not have to reopen a case when there is only one child, and that child turns eighteen. In this case, you just stop paying child support on the eighteenth birthday.

Termination when a child turns nineteen years of age.

If a child is still in high school, child support will continue until the child turns nineteen years of age with a reasonable expectation that the child will graduate. If the child graduates before reaching nineteen years of age, the child support will terminate upon graduation, but nineteen years old is the most a child can be for child support purposes.

So if there is no way conceivable that a child will graduate high school at nineteen years of age, child support ends on their eighteenth birthday.

Termination at sometime later or never.

If a child has special needs, then child support can continue for the life of the child. The critical factor in making this determination is “can the child be self-supporting?” Child support always terminates on the death of a child but let us not go there. For child support to extend past the child’s eighteenth or nineteenth birthday, the child support order must explicitly state so. The order can be in either the original or a subsequent order before the child’s eighteenth birthday. If child support terminates, say when the child turns eighteen, you cannot go back and reestablish or continue child support.

So there you have it, everything you ever wanted to know about when does child support end in Florida.

Please see our YouTube channel, “Your South Florida Lawyer, Patrick J. McGeehan,” for more videos explaining legal concepts in easy to understand terms.

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