child support lawyer

Can the Court Award Child Support After a Child Turns 18?

Even after your child becomes 18, child support obligation might not automatically end.

Ordinarily, when a Florida child support decree is issued, it is customary for the paying parent to make support payments until the child reaches the age of majority (18 years of age). However, the recent Florida case of Bloom v. Panchyshyn highlights that Florida courts may award child support even after a child turns 18.

The Bloom v. Panchyshyn Decision

In this case, the parties dissolved their marriage in June of 2013. When the final dissolution judgment adopted a mediated agreement, which provided that neither party would pay child support based on the income of both parties and the timesharing schedule. Approximately 10 months later, in April of 2014, the parties entered into a second mediated agreement, which also stated that neither party would pay child support.

Yet, just two weeks after their child turned 18 in October of 2014, the former husband filed a petition to modify the former wife’s no child support obligation. His petition was based on the fact that the former wife refused to allow the child to spend the night at her home. The former wife indicated she had no issue paying child support for the 10 month period that existed between mediation agreements, but she did object to paying child support after the child reached the age of majority.

Since the Florida trial court found that there had been a change in circumstances since the April 2014 agreement — namely, that there was no time-sharing by the former wife — the court required the former wife to pay child support retroactive to May of 2014. This trial court order did not specify, however, when the former wife’s support obligation would end.

The wife appealed the order requiring her to pay child support, arguing that the husband’s petition to modify the child support obligation was made after the child turned 18. The appellate court found these arguments without merit based on Section 743.07(2), Florida Statutes (2015). The statute clearly allows parents to file a petition seeking child support up and until high school graduation for an 18-year-old child.

When the former husband made his petition, the child was a dependent, still in high school, had not yet turned 19 and was expected to graduate before turning 19. Based on this record and Section 743.07(2), the appellate court found that the trial court did have the authority to order the wife to pay child support after the child turned 18. Simply put, Florida courts may require parents to pay child support after their child has turned 18.

If you have questions regarding your child support, or are unaware as to the terms and conditions in, talk to, and retain, a family law attorney who can help. Contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected]