Lawyer and client discussing his child support agreement.

How Long Do You Have to Pay Child Support?

Child support is intended to be, as the name suggests, payments to support care for a child or children. They are court-ordered and are usually made by the noncustodial parent to the parent with primary or sole custody. The battles waged over child support often do not end with divorce being finalized. There are modification battles and non-payment battles that frequently pop up. The strain of payment and non-payment of child support will have many people wondering: how long do you have to pay child support?

When does child support end?

Under current Florida law, all child support orders must contain an end date for the payment of child support. Usually, the end date is the child’s 18th birthday. If there are multiple children involved in the child support order, the order should contain different dates for each child. 

While it is the default for child support to end when a child reaches 18 years of age, there are instances when child support may end prior to the child’s 18th birthday. For instance, Florida law would assume that a child would no longer need to be supported by his or her parents if the minor child:

  • Got married
  • Entered the military
  • Applied for emancipation

In the alternative, child support payment may be required past the age of 18 in certain situations. Florida statutes have a provision for extending child support until your child reaches the age of 19. This happens in instances when the child has not or will not graduate high school by his or her 18th birthday. 

The child support payments will then be set to end upon graduation from high school. However, Florida law also grants the option of ending child support early even in these types of cases. If your child is definitely not on track to graduate from high school prior to the age of 19, then child support will still end on the child’s 18th birthday. While it may not have been the intention of creating such a provision in the law, it does work to encourage parents to help ensure the child graduates from high school on time.

While 19 years old is the maximum age of the child for a parent to continue paying a child support obligation, there are rare instances where child support continues after the age of 19 and may not even have an end date. This happens when a child has special needs that prevent him or her from ever becoming a self-supporting adult. If your child has such needs, the special needs status must be recognized in the final child support court order. If it has not been included, your child reaches the age of 18, and child support has ended, then the case to continue child support cannot be reopened.

Florida Child Support Attorneys

Child support laws are intricate and it can be difficult to follow the specifics. That is why the trusted child support attorneys at the Orlando Family Team make sure to counsel their clients in a way that an understanding of the law and its requirements are made clear. We want you to understand what is going on as we work to protect the best interests of you and your family. Contact us today.