My child is 18 years old. Why am I still paying child support?

On Behalf of | Aug 6, 2021 | Child Support

In most cases, child support payments end in Texas when your child graduates from high school or turns 18 years old, whichever comes last. For example, if your child is still enrolled in high school after turning 18, support continues until they graduate. If they graduate at age 17 or younger, support typically ends the same month they turn 18 years old.

Support may continue for children with disabilities

There are exceptions. Support payments may be required beyond a child’s 18th birthday and high school graduation in certain circumstances. If the child has a disability, support can be ordered for an “indefinite” period. For that to happen, the court must believe that:

  1. The child requires substantial supervision and treatment.
  2. The child cannot care for themselves due to a mental or physical disability, regardless of whether they live at home or in an assisted living facility.
  3. The child’s disability existed or was known to exist before they turn 18 years old.

The formula for calculating support for a child with special needs is different from a standard child support order. Payments are actually established on a case-by-case basis.

Does child support end automatically?

Many parents think child support ends automatically at age 18 or upon graduation from high school. However, a court order is needed before it stops. Parents who are responsible for paying child support must continue to pay until a judge signs the termination request. Support is often paid through the Texas Attorney General State Disbursement Unit. This Unit does the math and can enforce child support orders if a violation occurs. If the parent stops making payments before the termination order is signed, they could face fines and jail time.

Child support orders can be complicated. Failure to follow the court order can result in serious consequences. You may need professional help to file the appropriate paperwork.