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Misconceptions about child support when a child turns 18

Becoming a parent means assuming financial responsibility for one’s children. If a parent doesn’t live full-time with their children, then they may need to pay child support. The earlier in life someone breaks up with or divorces the other parent of their children, the more time someone may spend paying child support.

In Virginia, child support is an option in many family law scenarios. When one parent earns far more than the other or has substantially less time with their shared children, that parent may have to provide financial support to the other parent to help them meet the needs of the children.

Oftentimes, those paying child support make certain assumptions about their responsibilities. For example, people frequently assume that child support requirements automatically end when their children turn 18. However, parents often have to go to court to formally end their child support responsibilities even after a child turns 18.

Support can continue while children are in school

Virginia specifically allows for child support requirements to continue until a child turns 19 or finishes high school. A student who has not yet graduated could still require support while they live at home to finish their secondary education.

The parent paying support typically needs to request to hearing in court to reduce or end their child support when their child becomes a legal adult. Someone who reduces or terminates payments before having a hearing in front of a judge could end up responsible for the support that they did not pay and may have a harder time prevailing at the hearing.

Especially when there are unusual terms included in a child support order, as may be the case if the child has special needs, renegotiating or terminating support can be more difficult to change. A spousal support order could also complicate child support changes. Both of those orders exist independently of one another but can influence how the courts handle adjustments.

Parents who have spent years providing financial support sometimes make mistakes that put them at a financial or legal disadvantage. Learning about the rules for Virginia child support modifications, including terminations when a child turns 18, can help people better protect themselves. Parents who end payments early could face enforcement efforts and a host of secondary consequences, which is one of the reasons why legal compliance is so important.

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