Child Support Doesn’t Automatically End When Your Child Turns 18

Child support payments don’t stop the day your child turns 18. There are many factors involved in modifying or terminating child support in Massachusetts, so you need to understand the legal guidelines in these areas if you plan to amend your child support agreement.

Your child may become a legal adult when they turn 18, but that doesn’t mean you will stop paying child support. Massachusetts law treats children who have turned 18, but are still in high school, as minors for the purposes of child support. But once a child turns 18 there is often a reduction in child support based upon the child support guidelines.

Once your child graduates from high school, you may still have obligations to pay child support until the child turns 21 if they:

  • Maintain a legal domicile with a parent;
  • Remain principally dependent upon that parent for support; or enrolled in college.

Child support payments may continue after the child becomes 21 years of age and until they turn 23 if they:

  • Maintain a legal domicile with a parent and;
  • Are enrolled in college

When deciding if it’s appropriate to amend or terminate child support, the courts consider a number of factors, including:

  • Your child’s expenses, living situation, and educational status;
  • Each parent’s contribution to college costs;
  • Availability of financial aid for your child;
  • The level of emotional, financial, and other support from each parent;
  • The custodial parent’s financial situation;
  • The reason why your child is living with or primarily dependent upon a parent.
  • Are enrolled in an educational program (excluding graduate work);

What Do “Legal Domicile” and “Principally Dependent” Mean for Massachusetts Child Support?

Your child’s legal domicile is their true home or main residence. Your child may maintain a legal domicile with a parent even after they have gone off to college.

If the child returns home during some school breaks and uses the parent’s address for legal purposes — such as driver’s license, tax returns, voter registration, and legal mailing — Massachusetts courts will likely consider them as maintaining a legal domicile at that address.

To determine whether your child is principally dependent upon the other parent, the courts look to both monetary and non-monetary support, including:

  • Financial Support
  • Help with decision-making;
  • Involvement in the child’s well-being.

Contact Koiles Pratt Family Law Group to Amend or Terminate Child Support

Modifying or terminating child support can be challenging. At Koiles Pratt Family Law Group, we can examine your situation, explain your options, and help you file a Complaint for Modification seeking the elimination or reduction of child support.

We serve clients throughout Eastern Massachusetts. Call 978-744-7774 or contact us online for a confidential consultation with an experienced family law and divorce attorney.

Ready to protect your interests, assets and relationships.

Please contact us to discuss your family legal matters by calling 978-744-7774 or using the form below.

Fields marked with an * are required

    Salem Law Office

    70 Washington Street, Suite 210
    Salem, MA 01970