In a divorce involving children, one parent is determined the custodial parent—the one who takes care of the child most of the time—while the other parent is the noncustodial parent—the one responsible for paying child support. These payments are designed to help cover the costs of raising kids since Missouri law assumes the custodial parents already spends money on the child for food, shelter, clothing, and overall care.
Section 452.340 RSMo provides that child support may terminate when the child reaches age 18.But can child support be extended beyond the child’s 18th birthday? Depending on the circumstances, the answer is yes.
If your child turns 18, but has yet to graduate from high school, child support could last until he/she graduates, drops out of school, or turns 21 years of age (whichever comes first). Child support may also extend beyond age 18 and possibly to the age of 21 if the child is enrolled by the appropriate date in “an institution of higher education or vocation” (i.e. college or trade school), which includes in part that the child remains enrolled and finishes at least 12 hours of classes per semester and receives passing grades in half or more of his or her case load. If the child works at least 15 hours weekly while attending such an institution, he/she may enroll in as few as nine hours each semester to remain eligible for child support.
The state courts have also allowed child support to be extended without fulfilling these academic requirements in certain circumstances. If your child is faced with circumstances beyond his/her control that prevent your child from adhering to such requirements, child support may be extended.
Also, a child may receive child support beyond his/her 18th birthday if he/she is unmarried, financially strapped, and has a physical or mental disability that makes him/her unable to become self-supporting.
Please refer to Section 452.340 RSMo for the requirements for child support to extend beyond age 18.
If you are interested in modifying your current child support order in Missouri, contact our Chesterfield family law attorneys at Galmiche Law Firm, P.C. today.