Traditionally, child support ends once the child being supported reaches maturity. In fact, this is the belief that runs in most states in the United States. In Orange County, California, it is believed that child support payments end when the child turns 18.
There are cases, however, when a child, on his or her own, is not able to be financially independent. Often, this is because the person’s health has rendered him or her incapacitated in some way. Certain mental and physical afflictions may limit a child’s development or ability to function normally.
A mother’s efforts to obtain financial help from another state in caring for her disabled child may serve as an example of the need for a permanent child support law in the United States.
According to sources, a mother was receiving financial support from the father of her child with special needs. Unfortunately, the financial support ended when the child turned 18 and the court determined that the father is no longer obligated to continue paying based on current laws in that state.
The mother is taking action and with the help of a local representative, is seeking to push for provisions that would amend that state’s child support laws to include situations like hers. If she is successful, she is hoping to have laws passed in every state.
While her situation is extreme, she is to be admired. Fortunately, the state of California actually has some provisions in its existing family laws for similar situations.
California Family Code section 3910 is a complicated law, which provides narrow responsibilities for the local courts but exists to help support children with disabilities who require extended financial aid from their parents.
This provision specifically states that parents have an equal opportunity to maintain a child who is incapacitated and therefore unable to earn a living no matter what their age. Financial support is calculated similarly to that for a minor child.
Parents with children who have special needs should speak to a legal professional about section 3910 of the state’s family code for advice and other assistance. Using this provision, a legal professional can ask the courts to modify existing support agreements to benefit the child’s best interests. The support is needed for health care expenses, education and other necessary expenses for the child.
Source: WNEM.com, “Tough questions: Child support for life,” Kristin Moore, April 11, 2013