Most people believe their child support obligations come to an end as soon as the children in question turn 18, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Laws regulating child support vary from state to state, but in general, it’s safer not to assume your responsibilities are over at any point before you’ve verified it. Most courts require you to continue paying child support until the child is at least finished with high school, at which point the child will likely have passed his or her 18th birthday.
You also are not able to pay off your child support debts in a lump sum. This is one of the areas in which child support differs from alimony, as under alimony laws, you can waive the right to modify the agreement. However, you cannot do this with child support, even if one parent was to pay off his or her entire child support debt in one payment. Therefore, if you owe child support, you should not attempt to get ahead on payments to end your obligations early. If you do this, you could end up paying significantly more money than you would have had to otherwise.
Depending on the terms of your divorce, you might also have stipulations in your child support plan requiring you to continue making payments if the custodial parent will be helping the child to pay for a college education. Make sure you read the terms of your child support arrangement thoroughly and contact the child support administration or local court if you need clarification about anything.
For further guidance on establishing a favorable child support arrangement, work with a knowledgeable Jacksonville family law attorney today.
Attorney Maggie Harris contributed to this blog post.