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Does your child support order end when your child turns 18?

Does your child support order end when your child turns 18?

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Contrary to some states, child support in Massachusetts does not automatically end when your child turns 18. Massachusetts law provides that a parent may need to pay child support up until age 23 if the child remains dependent on the recipient, and a court may even order the obligor to help pay for college.

Understanding state law for child support after 18 can help you modify, maintain or terminate a child support arrangement.

Ending child support

Child support orders in Massachusetts end when a judge issues an order terminating the arrangement or when both parents agree together that the payments have ended. However, even if you and the other parent agree to end an arrangement, getting a formal court ruling can save you from later disputes.

If your child support order does not address the end of payments, you will most likely want to return to court to resolve this. Assuming that child support has ended may result in harsh penalties later if it comes to a dispute.

Likewise, if your child support order ends when the child turns 18 and you believe you have the right to receive payments beyond that date, you will need to file a new complaint.

Presenting your case

When bringing a case before the court, come prepared to demonstrate why you believe your child support order should end or continue. For example, you may argue that child support is no longer appropriate because the child in question has become self-sufficient or has become dependent on you instead of the recipient. Similarly, you may argue that child support is appropriate because you are still financially supporting your child during college.

When considering child support for children over 18, a judge will consider where the child is living and how dependent he or she is on the recipient. A judge will also consider the child’s educational situation and who is paying for college.