Will you need child support for your special needs child after age 18?

Today’s blog post from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will discuss matters related to child support considerations to take when your child has special needs. Specifically whether or not you will need to plan for and negotiate for the ability for you to receive child support after your child turns eighteen or graduates from high school. If you have not done so already I would recommend that you go bac to yesterday’s blog post to read about raising a child with special needs.

Child Support law in Texas

Child Support will typically come to an end for the owing parent (called an Obligor) whenever their child either turns eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. So long as your child is eighteen when he or she graduates from high school your child support obligation should stop at least according to your Final Decree of Divorce. Any support you choose to, or choose not to, provide at that point is up to you and your own sense of what your child needs to thrive.

If your child has special needs, however, their ability to just pick up and start to support themselves after graduation from high school is not always possible. There are functioning adults with disabilities that support themselves, certainly. There are many others that are not as fortunate. If your ex-spouse is charged with caring for your special needs child then the financial burdens associated with doing so can be quite onerous. Removing a steady source of income in the form of your child support can be extremely tough to deal with, as a result.

When it comes to children with disabilities and special needs, the State of Texas has acknowledged that there is often times a need and a justification for extending out the obligation for an obligor parent to pay child support past the eighteenth birthday, even in the event that your child does not graduate from high school.

How special needs children can receive child support after age 18

In the Texas Family Code there are laws in place that provide an option for child support ton continue for a special needs child beyond his or her 18th birthday. In order to quality a child must require care and supervision on a personal level due to their mental or physical disability. As we discussed earlier in this blog post, your special needs child is unlikely to be able to support themselves after he or she turns 18. This actually needs to be proven in order to have child support extended into the age of majority for your child.

If you are a parent who will have primary conservatorship rights to your special needs child then it would be ideal for you to be able to take into consideration the future needs of your child during a divorce or child custody case. This allows you to negotiate for specific provisions to be contained your final orders that can provide for child support beyond the age of 18. Getting this squared away relatively early in your child’s life as well as negating any future need to come to the courthouse is a nice combination of achievements for one family law case.

In the event that your child develops special needs after your initial child custody or divorce case you can come back to have the issue discussed by filing another lawsuit requesting that your child be able to receive child support past the age of 18. In some instances even your adult child can bring the lawsuit him or herself, but in most situations you as the parent would file this case.

A judge’s considerations to make when deciding whether to order child support past age 18

The judge will need to weigh whether or not your child will require the requisite care, attention and supervision that the law states in the Texas Family Code make post-18 support possible. Both you and the child’s other parent are potentially on the hook to provide support in this instance. Whereas most children who receive child support are paid through the Office of the Attorney General, adult disabled children are often given the ability to be paid directly by a parent or parents.

How much money can be ordered to be paid for the care of a disabled adult child?

We’ve spent the majority of today’s blog post going over the circumstances in which a judge would be justified in ordering continued child support for a child over the age of 18. On the other end of the spectrum, if we consider how much a court can award in support in terms of money, the law is not nearly as specific.

The judge will likely approach this question based on the specific needs of your child. The current and future needs of your child relating to care and supervision are to be considered. This means medical attention and third party assistance if necessary. If one parent is stating that he or she will provide the majority of direct care for the child on a daily basis this too will be taken into consideration. Finally, the financial resources available to you and your child’s other parent will be considered. If both of you are doing well financially it is possible that a judge could order more sizeable amounts of child support to be paid.

Questions or concerns about child support for your disabled or special needs child? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If after reading this blog post you have come to conclusion that your child will need support after he or she turns 18, then the best way to ensure that this support is received is to be proactive. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today to discuss the services that our office can provide for you and your family.

Our licensed family law attorneys work on behalf of clients across southeast Texas and would be honored to do the same for you and your family. A free of charge consultation is only a phone call away.

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