The requirement for parents to pay child support generally ends when the child reaches what's known as the "age of majority." That is the age when a young person is legally considered to be an adult. It varies among states. However, in most states it's 18. In some cases, it extends until a young person has finished high school. Some states consider 21 to be the age of majority.
A key exception to the termination of child support at the age of majority is when children aren't able to support themselves financially when they reach that age and/or are unable to live independently because of a disability. This applies to those with mental and intellectual disabilities as well as to people with physical disabilities.
Laws Vary by State
Requirements for "most-minority support" for adult disabled children vary by state. Most states have some sort of statute(s) requiring parents to continue to support their child to the best of their financial ability. Some have no specific law requiring this support, but it can still be ordered by a court.
In most states, the details regarding the requirement of support are left up to the discretion of the court and the stipulations of the child support order. In some cases, the law specifies that both parents are responsible for their adult disabled child's support to the extent that they're able to provide it.
Addressing Your Child's Needs in the Support Order
If parents divorce when a disabled child is young, they may have no way to predict to what degree that child will be able to care for him- or herself upon becoming an adult. However, it's still wise to address that possibility in your child support order.
Further, a child may become severely mentally or physically disabled after the divorce. In that case, the issue of care will need to be addressed and the support order modified. It's not uncommon, even with non-disabled kids, for parents to find it necessary to modify support orders as their children grow up and their needs change. Experienced family law attorneys can provide guidance and help to protect your child's interests for as long as necessary.
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