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Situations when child support can continue beyond age 18

When couples with children divorce in New Jersey, the divorce agreement will in most cases address child support payments. Who receives money, how much is paid, and for how long are the basic terms that need to be established. Typically, child support is required to be paid until the child reaches the age of majority. This means the child is no longer considered a minor and can make legal decisions. In New Jersey and most other states, the age of majority is 18.

However, any individual divorce order can include terms that differ from the standard end of child support at 18. For example, the parents might decide that support payments need to continue beyond high school and help support the child while attending post-secondary school. Longer term support for disabled or special needs children may also be continued beyond the age of 18 when agreed upon or if ordered.

Another typical reason for extending child support beyond the age of majority is high school. A child support plan can state that payments need to continue until the child graduates from high school because sometimes a child turns 18 prior to graduation.

During the creation of a child support plan, an attorney might be able to help a person make decisions about how long to require payments. Special needs and the request to continue support through the college years can complicate divorce issues because of the long-term financial planning necessary to meet potential obligations. Additionally as years go by, the financial situation of a child support provider might change. In that situation, an attorney might again be helpful in re-negotiating child support terms through a request for a modification of the order.

Source: FindLaw, "When Does Child Support End?", accessed on Feb. 9, 2015

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