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How Long Does California Child Support Last?

Divorced or separated parents that are either receiving or paying child support often wonder about the duration that payments will last. Understanding the time constraints of child support helps both the custodial and the non-custodial parent budget and plan for future expenses, making it crucial to understand California's child support guidelines regarding the length of time payments will be made.

When Does Child Support End?

According to California Law, parents are required to pay child support until the child is 18 years of age. As this is the age a child reaches adulthood, this is the standard for most child support orders. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

Adult Children in High School

Since most children will turn 18 before they graduate high school, will be living with their parents, and more than likely are not self-supporting yet, a parent’s child support obligation will most likely continue depending on two occurrences. Either support will end when the child completes their final year of high school or when the child reaches the age of 19 years old.

Support will end depending on whichever of these occurs first. This means child support will continue until the child graduates or when they turn 19, even if they are still in school and not self-supporting.

Children With Disabilities or Special Needs

In cases where parents have a special needs child, generally will continue to pay child support past the age of 18. Since these children depend on the support of their parents in their adult years, both parents still bear equal responsibility to support their child if they are:

  • Incapacitated from earning a living, and

  • Without sufficient means to do so

In cases of “incapacitated from earning a living,” proof of a mental or physical disability that prevents the child from being able to work must be provided to the court. Essentially, the court needs evidence that the child cannot find a job due to factors beyond their control.

This child support obligation only applies if the child is “without sufficient means.” The court will determine this based on the likelihood that the child will become a burden to the public if they do not have financial support from their parents. Payments will typically continue indefinitely if the court believes that the child will not be able to make a living on their own.

Past Due Child Support

If a parent has not been making their child support payments and has gotten significantly behind, they are still obligated to pay it back even if the child has already turned 18. Payments will once the above-mentioned criteria are met, and no additional payments will be required. However, any missed payments must be paid back to the child. Therefore, it is possible for a child to still receive support well after the age of 18 or 19 years old.

If you are behind on child support, please contact the San Bernardino child support attorneys at Law Office of Michael R. Young today by calling our office at (909) 315-4588 to discuss your options.