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How Do I End Child Support Payments When My Child Turns 18?

How to Stop Child Support When Child Turns 18 in Florida

If you’re currently paying child support in Florida, you’ve probably wondered when those payments will end. We know navigating the specifics around child support obligations can be confusing.

Typically, your requirement to pay court-ordered child support terminates when your child turns 18, or graduates from high school if graduation is before the age of 19, but there are some exceptions.

At Vasquez de Lara Law Group, we’ve helped many clients successfully modify or terminate existing child support orders once their child becomes an adult. We want to arm you with helpful information so you can make the smoothest possible transition to this next season.

First, Check Your Child Support Order for an End Date

When trying to end child support at 18 in Florida, first check if your existing order already lists a termination date.

Since 2010, state statutes have actually required child support orders to specify when payments stop (typically on the child’s 18th birthday or at high school graduation if they will graduate before turning 19). So, for orders in the past decade or so, check for predefined end dates attached to each child covered.

Having this end date avoids needing separate court hearings later just to show you completed the payments. But even though it’s required by law, many Florida judges still don’t include concrete payment end dates in support orders.

When Does Child Support Legally End in Florida?

In Fla. Stat. § 61.14(9), you’ll find information on how long parents are legally obligated to pay child support. The statute says that child support typically ends when the child turns 18 in Florida.

The only exceptions are if the court orders payments to continue past age 18, the child is still in highschool, or if the parents have formally agreed to extend payments.

Your Child Is Still in High School

If your 18-year-old has not yet graduated from high school, your support payments may continue until graduation if they graduate before turning 19. The goal here is to ensure your child graduates high school prior to losing this financial support. But if the child will graduate after turning 19, child support will terminate at the age of 18 even if the child has not yet graduated.

Your Child Has a Disability and Cannot Support Themselves

If your child is disabled to the point where they cannot support themselves when they turn 18, a judge may order child support to continue. The specifics depend heavily on the unique situation. It is very important to note that this MUST be requested before the child turns 18.

Similarly, if your 18-year-old child lacks adequate resources to be self-sufficient because of a physical or mental deisability, the court may order an extension of the support order. Again, specifics vary widely, but this MUST be requested before the child turns 18.

You and The Other Parent Agree to Extend Payments

Even though child support typically terminates when the child turns 18 in Florida, parents can formally agree to continue payments past the age of majority. For example, if the child is still finishing high school or enrolled in college, the parents may negotiate and sign an agreement to continue child support until the child completes education – up to their 23rd birthday.

This legally binds both parents to follow the exception and extend payments. However, this only applies if both parties consent in writing – a court cannot force parents to pay child support beyond the age of 18 or graduation unless they voluntarily agree on their own terms.

How to Terminate a Florida Child Support Order

If none of the above exceptions apply to you, you may be ready to legally terminate your existing child support order. Here is an overview of what’s involved:

First, you need to file a petition requesting termination with the court that issued the original child support order. The court provides the necessary forms if you don’t already have representation.

You’ll explain why you feel the obligation to pay child support should end and provide financial records as supporting evidence.

After reviewing your petition and supporting documentation, the judge decides whether your request to terminate child support is valid. If approved, the court formally ends the support order.

Ideally, you should file the petition as soon as possible after the triggering event, which is usually when your child turns 18 or graduates. Don’t just stop making payments on your own, as that money could be hard to recover later and cause legal issues.

We know this paperwork can be confusing and overwhelming as you navigate terminating support. Lean on our experience to handle the petition accurately, working with you each step so you know what to expect.

Options If You Want Child Support to Continue After 18

While many parents look forward to ending child support payments, others see ongoing financial support as an investment in their child’s future. If you fall into the latter camp, know that you have options to extend support.

Reasons parents choose to lengthen child support include:

  • Allowing their child to focus on education full-time after high school graduation
  • Easing the transition into independent young adulthood
  • Helping launch an adult child into their career

To put an extended child support agreement in place, both parents must consent and sign a modified order with the court. This modified order overrides the previous termination age and dictates how long payments continue.

Revisiting this decision annually gives both parties an “out” as circumstances evolve. We can guide you in determining the best path for your family situation.

Let Our Team Help With Your Case

If you have questions about ending child support in Florida, contact Vasquez de Lara Law Group for a case evaluation. If you prefer, you can schedule your case evaluation online.

We have decades of combined family law experience when it comes to child support modifications and terminations. Allow us to put our knowledge to work for your child support case.

Call today to schedule a consultation to discuss your specific situation.

Author Bio

Vanessa Vasquez de Lara is the founder and owner of Vasquez de Lara Law Group, a Miami family law firm. With over 20 years of experience in family law, she has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including divorces, child support, child custody, alimony, and other family law cases.

Vanessa received her Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law in 2002 and is a member of the Florida Bar Association. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named to the 2015 Super Lawyers Rising Stars and the 2016-2023 Super Lawyers list.

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