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How long does ongoing child support last?

Well, that can actually be a tricky question, and has different answers depending on the circumstances:

1) If you have ONE, healthy child: If we are talking about Florida law, for pure child support, for one child without a disability, then it runs until the child turns 18, or up to a year afterwards if the child is still in high school on the day they turn 18 and are expected to graduate before the age of 19. If your child support award was set before December of 2011, you may need to get a court order to “turn off” the wage garnishment from your paycheck.

2) If you have more than one, healthy child, and your order was entered BEFORE December of 2011, there is often language that causes the child support for your oldest child to continue as support for your younger children until you petition to modify the child support to terminate for the eldest child. Whether you should petition to terminate the child support in such a circumstance depends on whether or not your income has increased such that even an order for one child will be higher than your payment for two children. At DADvocacy, we run the support guidelines before filing your action to make sure that you do not put your self in a position to raise your support payment in an effort to terminate the support.

3) If you have more than one, healthy child, and your order was entered AFTER December of 2011, you have the circumstance that is the easiest to deal with. For orders entered after this date, the 18th birthday of each child is written into the court order, so child support for each child automatically falls off as they emancipate. Your wage garnishment order should have the same language. Hopefully, in your case, everything will work seamlessly and without need for court intervention, which was the goal of the statute. If you feel concerned, call us with any questions you may have.

4) If your child has a disability, it is important to seek legal advice several months BEFORE your child turns 18, as a child with a disability that requires them to reside with the obligee parent may cause you to support your child for as long as your child lives.

A few months before you reach the emancipation date of each of your children, review your Court order to see if you are required to take action to terminate your child support order and attendant wage garnishment order. If you need to take action, be sure to get started right away, as it can take months to get a hearing date. Any monies overpaid to the mother during that time are unlikely to ever be recovered.

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