Can the Court Order Me to Pay Child Support Beyond Age 18?

By Andrea Johnson

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

child supportChild support is typically paid until the child reaches the age of majority, which is usually 18 or 21 years old depending on the state. (Learn your state’s child support laws.)

However, the courts can in their discretion order support to be paid longer than that, but only under limited circumstances.

The first circumstance, and a pretty common one, is when the minor child reaches age 18 prior to graduation from high school.

Ordinarily, support orders will allow that the child support continue until the minor child graduates from high school or turns 18, whichever shall last occur, but in no circumstances should the support go beyond the age of 20 based on a child’s enrollment in high school.

The purpose is to ensure that the custodial parent received support while he/she is supporting the minor child. This takes care of the child who turns 18 in January of their senior year, but does not actually graduate until June.

This also allows for support of a minor child who may have had to repeat a year of schooling. It does not, however, allow for a parent to continue receiving support for a child who is truly old enough to support themselves.

Outside of an emancipated minor completing high school, you are unlikely to find a court awarding child support beyond age 18.

Child Support Calculator

Bottom line: A judge will not order support after high school graduation, unless certain circumstances exist, such as where the child is mentally or physically disabled.

That is not to say you should stop being a parent and providing support for your kids at any point. It is, however, to say that once the child is an adult, the court system can no longer impose such obligations.

To schedule an appointment with a family law attorney, contact Cordell & Cordell.


men's divorce lawyer Andrea JohnsonAndrea M. Johnson is a Senior Attorney in the Atlanta, Georgia office of Cordell & Cordell, where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Johnson is licensed to practice law in the state of Georgia. Ms. Johnson was born in the metro-Atlanta area and has spent most of her life in Georgia. She received her Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia in 1998. Ms. Johnson received her Juris Doctor from Mercer University School of Law in 2002.  

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