When Should Child Support End?

Presently when parents of a child in common no longer reside together, one parent pays child support to the primary residential parent. Child support includes a basic periodic payment of money that is paid to the residential parent. In addition the nonresidential parent also contributes a set pro rata percentage of add-ons, i.e., unreimbursed uninsured medical costs, childcare, college. For information on how it is calculated go to http://www.macenylaw.com/child-support/.

Child support terminates upon actual or constructive emancipation of the child. Actual emancipation in New York State is the child’s 21st birthday. Most states terminate child support on the child’s 18th birthday. Some of these states extend it if the child attends college or has special needs. Constructive emancipation occurs if the child becomes self-supporting, joins the military, marries or the child or support payer dies. If the basis for a child having been constructively emancipated no longer exists (lost job, divorce, discharge) and the child is under 21 he or she can be unemancipated.

All parent’s in New York State are legally responsible for their children’s basic cost of food, shelter and clothing. If they do not provide it and the child seeks public assistance from Social Services, the agency can charge the parents unless the child is refusing to follow reasonable household rules.

Some people believe child support should be extended by law to the age of 26 just as the insurance laws for a family plan have been. They say that the children usually continue to reside at home and need to be supported. If this became law, some children would wait until 26 to get off their butts. Some of these children living at home have jobs and do not contribute and continue to be pampered. If two parents who reside together wish to permit this, fine. If either parent wishes to permit this after their split up, fine. But contribution should not ever be mandated on split parents for a child over the age any parent would be required to pay for food, clothing and shelter for a child. Parents by law are already free to voluntarily agree to do more. I do not permit my client’s to do so in writing. They are free to do it on their own later, otherwise the child does not appreciate and is told you are doing it only because you have to.

I believe child support should end at 18 both as concerns child support and as concerns a parent’s liability for their children’s basic cost of food, shelter and clothing. Parents who split up should not be mandated to fund the child’s college. Had they stayed together and not wanted to contribute, they would not have to. Children from a broken home should not be entitled to more than children of an intact family.