Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Child Support

According to the Florida Statutes, child support can be ordered to be paid until a child graduates from high school even if the child will be 19 when he or she graduates from school. A question that was answered in one recent appellate case deals with whether child support can be modified after a child turns 18 if the child is still in high school.

In this case, there was no dispute that the father was paying child support on time, monthly. Once his child turned 18, the state depository held the child support payments that were being made in reserve and eventually refunded these payments to him since the parties’ martial settlement agreement stated the father would pay child support until the child turned 18. The child was still in high school by the time she turned 18 and would not graduate until at least 5-6 months later.

The Department of Revenue filed a petition for modification of child support despite refunding the over payments to the father, alleging that although the child was 18, she was still dependent and needed support through her high school graduation. At a hearing, the father testified that he would be wiling to pay support through graduation, however the trial court felt constrained to deny the petition for modification under the belief it had no subject matter jurisdiction to do so since the petition was filed after the child turned 18.

The Department of Revenue appealed, arguing the plain language of the Florida Statutes permitted modification under these circumstances. The appellate court distinguished between this situation and one in which a child became incapacitated and modification was sought after the child turned 18. In this case, because the statutes authorize child support to be paid until the child’s high school graduation if the child is performing with a reasonable expectation of graduating by the age of 19, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s ruling, effectively allowing the modification to proceed.

If you need to modify a child support obligation to ensure that you receive assistance until your child graduates from high school, contact a Miami child support lawyer to determine your next best steps. Time is of the essence to ensure that you do not lose funds that may be available to you in the form of retroactive support.