Parents who are ordered to pay child support generally assume that it will last until the child becomes an adult. This is often true, but there is one key exception to keep in mind: Children with a disability.
Remember, a child who is disabled or who has special needs may not be able to live on their own, no matter how old they are. Just turning 18 or 19 does not mean they no longer need their parents. That obligation continues for the rest of the child’s life.
In these cases, the court can order that child support payments need to continue. In Indiana, for instance, a big thing that they look for is a child who has become incapacitated. The court can then extend the support obligations, which the parents must honor for as long as necessary.
The reason that courts make these exceptions is simple: They know that married parents often have to care for these children for life. It’s the best way for them to have a high quality of life and to get the care that they need. Just because the parents decided to get divorced does not mean the child’s quality of life should suffer. If the child still needs the support he or she would have received while the marriage lasted, the court can ensure that the child still gets that support moving forward.
While these are relatively rare cases, compared to most divorce cases, it is incredibly important for parents never to assume anything. They need to know exactly what rights and legal obligations they have every step of the way.