Does Child Support Automatically End When a Child Turns 18 Years of Age?

Answer: It depends.

Section 743.07(2) Florida Statutes, states:

“This section shall not prohibit any court of competent jurisdiction from requiring support for a dependent person beyond the age of 18 years when such dependency is because of a mental or physical incapacity which began prior to such person reaching majority or if the person is dependent in fact, is between the ages of 18 and 19, and is still in high school, performing in good faith with a reasonable expectation of graduation before the age of 19.”

 Additionally, § 61.13 Florida Statutes, states:

1. All child support orders and income deduction orders entered on or after October 1, 2010, must provide:

a. For child support to terminate on a child’s 18th birthday unless the court finds or previously found that s. 743.07(2) applies, or is otherwise agreed to by the parties;

b. A schedule, based on the record existing at the time of the order, stating the amount of the monthly child support obligation for all the minor children at the time of the order and the amount of child support that will be owed for any remaining children after one or more of the children are no longer entitled to receive child support; and

c. The month, day, and year that the reduction or termination of child support becomes effective.

However, many support orders entered prior to October 1, 2010, provide for a “lump sum” of child support for multiple children.  For example, if a support order only states that the obligor parent must pay $1,200.00 per month in support for the parties’ three (3) minor children, this order provides for a lump sum of child support.  As such, the obligor parent would have the affirmative duty to seek a reduction as each child reaches majority.

Furthermore, even when a child support order allocates the amount of support per child but does not have a specified termination date, the trial court can retroactively terminate child support based on the emancipation of a child prior to the date such relief is requested.  Thus, while the obligor parent must still request the court modify the child support amount, the court has the authority to do so retroactive to the date the child reached majority.  As a result, the obligor parent may be able to receive a credit for “overpayment” of child support.

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