In Virginia, parents have a legal obligation to provide for their children. Generally, child support terminates at the age of 18 unless the child is a full-time high school student who is still living at home and not self-supporting. If this is the case, then child support will continue until the child turns 19 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs first.
There are many families who have children with a disability or special needs who may require child support after the child reaches the age of 18. Virginia law allows for a court to order that child support be paid or continue to be paid for a child over the age of 18 who,
(1) has a severe and permanent mental or physical disability that existed before the child reached the age of 18 (or 19, if the child was a full-time high school student, as addressed above),
(2) is unable to live independently and support him or herself, and
(3) lives in the home of the parent seeking or receiving child support. Even if parents of a child with a disability or special needs separate or divorce after the child has already turned 18, Virginia law allows the custodial parent to petition the court for an initial order of child support.
Finally, for children over the age of 18 who do not fit into either of the categories discussed above, Virginia allows parents to contract with one another to extend a child support obligation beyond when it would otherwise terminate as provided by Virginia law.
The child support process can be complicated; however, you do not have to go through it alone. An experienced Virginia family law attorney can help you navigate the process and make sure you receive the child support payments you are due. Phillips & Peters practices exclusively in the area of family law. Our attorneys are here to help you move forward with your child support matter. When you are ready to take the first step, give Phillips & Peters a call.