Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Child Support

Until what age can a parent be obligated to pay child support in Florida? Generally, once a child turns 18, a parent is no longer responsible for paying support, with some exceptions. In the case Garcia-Lawson v. Lawson, 211 So.3d 137 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017) we review a former wife's appeal of a final judgment denying her request for retroactive child support over three years after the parties' child turned 18. 

Retroactive support includes support that should have been paid before a court order was entered obligating child support. Florida child support laws allow a parent to seek retroactive support dating back to the date the parents no longer resided together, no more than 24-months prior to the date of filing the petition for support.

In waiting until the parties' child turned 21 to ask for retroactive support, the court held the former wife had no standing or ability to seek the support. In the absence of a showing that the child was legally dependent or that support beyond 18 was agreed-to by the parties, the former wife could not be awarded the support. 

Generally, child support can extend beyond 18 in the following situations: (1) a child is still in high school with a reasonable expectation of graduation by the age of 19; (2) the parties enter a written agreement providing for payment of child support past age 18; or (3) a child is declared legally dependent after the age of 18, usually meaning the child is incapable of self-support due to a medical condition or other incapacity. In most cases, a request for support beyond age 18 must be made before the child turns 18, or the parent may lack standing to request the extension.

Determining whether your child is eligible for extended child support starts with a detailed consultation with a Miami child support lawyer. This can help you decide whether or not you have options in having college expenses paid for a dependent adult child, for example.