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Obligation for Special Needs Children

In most cases, child support obligation ends either when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever date occurs last.  However, support for a special needs child may extend beyond the norm; in fact, the Family Code provides that "the Court may order either or both parents to provide for the support of a child for an indefinite period...."  However, in order for the court to impose child support under this provision, the court must find that the child requires substantial supervised care because of a mental or physical disability that will prohibit the child from self-support, and that the disability is known to have existed before the child’s 18th birthday.

In determining the amount of support to be paid after a child’s 18th birthday, the court shall determine and give special consideration to:

  1. Any existing or future needs of the adult child directly related to the adult child’s mental or physical disability and the substantial care and personal supervision directly required by or related to that disability;
  2. Whether the parent pays for or will pay for the care or supervision of the adult child or provides or will provide substantial care or personal supervision of the adult child;
  3. The financial resources available to both parents for the support, care, and supervision of the adult child; and
  4. Any other financial resources or other resources or programs available for the support, care, and supervision of the adult child.