When most people think about child support issues, they may naturally assume the issues relate only to minor children. Most child support judgments and obligations do revolve around the needs of minor children. However, Massachusetts is one of only two states where child support can be ordered after the age of 18.
The payment of child support for children over age 18 is established by statute and is strictly within the discretion of the court. The court may order a parent to continue paying child support if a child is over age 18, but has not yet reached the age of 21, if the child is living at home and is principally dependent upon the parents for support. If the child is living at home and attending a full-time undergraduate college or university, a parent may be required to pay child support until the child reaches age 23, or until he graduates. In no case will a parent be ordered to pay child support beyond a child’s 23rd birthday.
There are certain factors the court must consider when determining whether to order support for a child over age 18. These factors include the following:
• The child’s living situation;
• The reason for the child’s continued residence with and dependence on the parents;
• The available financial resources of the parents;
• The college costs for the child, including how much each parent contributes; and
• The availability of financial aid.
In addition to the above, the court may also consider indirect financial contributions made by the parent with whom the child lives, such as the cost of maintaining a room for the child in the parent’s home, as well as relevant non-economic factors, such as each parent’s involvement with the child’s care and well- being.
Every parent in Massachusetts has the legal obligation to care for the needs of his or her child. Part of that obligation may include continuing to pay child support for a child over the age of 18. Massachusetts has Child Support Guidelines that the court must use when determining orders of support. However, these Guidelines can be confusing and difficult to understand. If you currently paying or receiving child support, and have questions about whether child support will continue beyond age 18, contact Shapiro Law Group, PC. We can explain the laws on child support and help you to understand your rights.
By Anna Shapiro