There are many complex decisions involved in the divorce process, especially when you and your spouse share children together. One of the most important divorce-related matters is child support. Oftentimes, misconceptions regarding child support can leave parents feeling confused, and sometimes children without the support they deserve and are legally entitled to. One of these common misunderstandings is when child support actually ends.
In this blog we will discuss age limits on child support, special circumstances that may necessitate the extension of child support, how agreements and court orders work, and more. Let’s begin!
When Is Child Support Required?
Before we discuss when child support ends, let’s talk about when it’s required. In the state of Alabama, both parents have a legal duty to support their child(ren) financially. The amount of support is dependent upon the number of children and the income of both parents. While child support can be a concern for parents who are worried about making ends meet, and others who feel they might be overpaying, it’s important to remember that the sole purpose of child support is to ensure your children’s needs are met and that they are well taken care of.
In the event that you are not receiving the proper amount of child support, or you feel you’re being taken advantage of, it’s crucial that you work with a skilled child support attorney who can assess your situation and advise you on the right steps to take to reach a favorable outcome.
Age Limit for Child Support
Child support in every state ends when the child reaches “the age of majority.” This is the legal age established under individual state laws that indicate when an individual is no longer a minor, thus they can make certain legal decisions on their own. In Alabama, the age of majority is 19. Therefore child support ends upon a child turning 19 years of age.
How Do Payments Work Prior To A Child Turning 19?
Child support payments are court ordered in compliance with Rule 32 of Alabama’s Child Support Guidelines. If parents cannot reach an agreement regarding child support payments outside of the court, a judge will evaluate the individual circumstances of both parents, including their income, how many children they have together, their capacity to earn, as well as what’s in the best interest of the child.
If you have further questions or concerns regarding child support, the state has a form which can help you break down and determine your payments based on the state’s guidelines. You can also find the Schedule For Basic Child-Support Obligations here.
Can Child Support Be Modified?
Even though child support is court ordered, it isn’t permanent. There are a variety of circumstances in which either parent can request a modification to the child support agreement. Section 3b of the Child Support Guidelines reads,
“A party seeking a modification of child support must plead and prove that there has occurred a material change in circumstances that is substantial and continuing since the last order of child support.”
It also indicates that child support should be modified when the difference between the existing order and the amount determined by application for modification varies more than ten percent.
If you or your co-parent experience a significant change, like a job loss, promotion, relocation, or something else, modification may be necessary.
Special Needs And Disabilities
In Alabama the law allows “post-minority support” to be paid in the event that you have a handicapped child. This means if you and your spouse get divorced and have a child or children with disabilities, you may be able to get a court order for the continuation of child support to ensure that all of your child’s needs are met even past the age of 19.
What If My Co-Parent Is Avoiding Paying Child Support?
Unfortunately, there are some parents who try to avoid their obligation to pay child support in a variety of ways. Some will quit their job and not attempt to find new work, some will take lower-paying positions than necessary, and some may even try to conceal their earnings to avoid paying more in child support. Alabama courts will not tolerate any attempts made by a parent to avoid payment.
Child support is a court order. If a parent does not obey a court order, they can be found in contempt of the order. If said parent is 30 days late in payment, Child Support Enforcement (a federal, state and local partnership designed to get your child the financial and medical support he or she deserves) can intervene and ask a judge to find a parent in contempt. If a parent is found in contempt, they could face jail time.
Other Circumstances Of Child Support Termination
- A child dies
- A child enters military service
- The paying parent obtains sole physical custody
How Foxtrot Family Law Can Help You
Is your child getting the support that they deserve and are legally entitled to? If not, we can help you get it.
Are you being taken advantage of and overpaying when it comes to child support? We can help you assess your current child support situation and explore possible discrepancies.
We know how sensitive child support matters can be, which is why we strive to help you reach your ideal solution as swiftly and efficiently as possible. We can help you…
- Understand child support guidelines
- Negotiate child support through mediation
- Litigate child support issues
- Enforce child support orders
- Modify child support orders
Don’t navigate this journey alone. We can simplify the road ahead to ensure the best possible future for you and your family. Call Foxtrot Family Law today to request a consultation and discover your next steps and options.