Raising a child involves many different expenses, and child support is one way that parents can address those expenses after they go their separate ways. How long might child support payments be a part of your family’s finances?
When does child support usually end?
Under Arizona law, a parent’s responsibility to financially support their child generally ends when that child reaches the age of majority at their eighteenth birthday. As a result, child support also usually ends when your child reaches adulthood.
Why might child support continue into adulthood?
While child support usually ends at a child’s eighteenth birthday, that is not always the case. A support order may require support payments to continue after that date. Arizona statute A.R.S. § 25-320 outlines some of the reasons child support may continue after your child turns 18. These include:
- Your child will not have graduated by the time they turn 18 — Graduating high school is an important step toward your child’s future success. If your child will still be in school or pursuing their diploma at that time, the child support can continue until they graduate or turn 19, whichever comes first.
- Your child has special needs — If your child’s disability makes them dependent on you for support, a child support order may last into their adulthood to ensure that they have the care they need.
- You have a child support order from another state that dictates otherwise — If you moved into Arizona with an existing child support order from another state, the court will typically honor the existing order. If another state’s court declares that you must pay child support through college, for example, your payments would continue for several years into your child’s adulthood.
When negotiating your child support arrangement or arguing for your case in court, it is crucial to understand the needs of your child. If you are to owe child support, while it is understandable to protect your own income, also consider the long-term well-being of your child. If you are receiving child support, consider whether or not your child will need financial support into their adulthood.
If a situation develops after child support was already decided, such as when your child does not graduate high school by the time they reach adulthood, consider seeking a modification to keep your child support arrangement active. Child support exists to ensure the financial stability of your child, and your arrangement should evolve to reflect your child’s needs.
Whether your child is nearly grown or they have years before they reach adulthood, child support payments may be part of your finances after divorce. Failing to account for life changes as your child reaches adulthood could negatively impact them as they try to make a life of their own. Carefully considering these payments as you build your legal strategy can help you protect your financial health and your child’s needs as they grow.