Support Obligations for Adult Handicapped Children
In Florida, parties who have children and divorce have to consider child support. It is generally ordered through a child’s majority but it may be extended through high school graduation so long as the child is in high school, attending in good faith with a reasonable expectation of graduation on or before the child’s nineteenth birthday. The court may also deviate child support upward or downward depending on various circumstances regarding the parents or a child.
These aspects of child support are pretty widely known. In fact, most parents who go through a divorce have a general knowledge of how child support works; however, most parents do not understand the special provisions regarding special needs children who we refer to as “adult dependent children.” Specifically, Florida Statute Section 743 et seq provides that a Court of competent jurisdiction may order child support for a dependent child “beyond the age of 18 years when such dependency is because of mental or physical incapacity which began prior to such person reaching majority.
This means that a parent who has a child with a physical or emotional handicap or injury which manifested itself or occurred while the child was a minor, may petition the Court and request support beyond the child’s majority. This is because some children are unable to graduate high school or live independently. These children will require the assistance of both parents beyond reaching majority and possibly well into adulthood.
All parents should be aware of this important benefit for handicapped and injured children. If you have a child who falls into this category, it is important to file a court action before the child reaches majority. It is also important to hire an attorney to assist with this complex relief.