Question: I have been divorced for about 15 years have paid child support the entire time to my three children, now ages 22, 18 and 14.
The oldest is married and the 18-year-old is graduating in May. The youngest, though, has been in a children’s home for the past 4 years, and will be there until he is 18. My ex spouse is collecting SSI for him.
Can I get my support reduced since my oldest can be emancipated, and my youngest is not living with my ex who only visits him on the weekends?
Each state has different laws governing child support. I do not practice in your state so I can only respond relative to general practice. You should consult a domestic litigation attorney licensed in Indiana to address your question. Cordell & Cordell has many attorneys licensed and located in Indiana who may be able to assist you.
It is important that you refer back to your divorce decree and re-read the child support section to see if there are any provisions which would extend your payment of support beyond 18/graduation from high school. In most states, the obligations to financially support a child continues until the child reaches 18 years of age or 19, so long as the child is pursuing a high school diploma. Obligations to provide insurance while the child is pursing higher education however can extend until the insurance is no longer available to the parent.
If your decree is like the majority of decrees, you no longer have an obligation to provide child support for your eldest child. Your obligation to support your second child probably terminates the month after she graduates high school. However, support does not automatically terminate in most states. To stop the collection, you may have to file a motion with the Court that originally ordered the support. You and your attorney will be able to discuss the procedure required in your state.
Child support and SSI benefits are supposed to go to the person who is caring for the child. If your son is in a children’s home, the children’s home should be receiving both payments; not your ex wife. SSI benefits are based on a consideration of the income of the parties. Therefore, your obligation for child support will continue as the payment was probably taken into consideration when the SSI benefits were granted. Your ex wife may also be responsible for payment of support; this would be in addition to your payment. You should contact an attorney to review your situation as circumstances may have changed in the last 15 years which may warrant a modification of support obligations as to both parents. In addition, you will want to take steps to ensure that the support you are paying is going to the children’s home.
Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.