Many children suffer from disabilities and since April is Autism Awareness Month, this article will look at whether or not child support can be extended after a child turns 18. Typically, the duty of support continues as to an unmarried child who has attained the age of 18 years, is a full time high school student, and who is not self supporting, until the time the child completes the 12th grade or attains the age of 19 years, whichever occurs first.
However, when it comes to children with a disability, Family Code, §3910, holds that the father and mother have an equal responsibility to maintain, to the extent of their ability, a child of whatever age who is incapacitated from earning a living and without sufficient means.
In fact, the obligation to support an adult child can continue on even after one parent passes. In a case called Marriage of Drake, the parties divorced and their 21-year-old son, who lived with mom, suffered from chronic paranoid schizophrenic. Many years later, mom filed a request for increased child support because, due to her failing health, she could no longer care for her son and needed professional care and assistance for him. Mom later passed away and the trustees of special needs trust mom had set up substituted into the action as her successors. The court held that mom’s death did not abate the child support action and father’s duty to support son did not expire with mom’s death.