Experienced Family Law Attorneys Helping Establish Support for Disabled Children in Florida Divorces
For most child custody and support cases, calculating child support is straightforward. When one child is mentally or physically disabled, however, the calculation process is more complicated.
It is important that, if you have a disabled child, you speak with a family law attorney. The costs of raising a child with a disability are more than those associated with raising a child without a disability. Therefore, the courts take into consideration these costs and the custody arrangement, and attempt to make the financial burden as fair as possible between both parents.
The Costs of Raising a Special Needs Child
Raising a non-special needs child is expensive. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that it costs approximately $234,000 per child to raise him or her until the age of 17. This does not include costs associated with pregnancy, delivery, or even college. However, higher income adults are more likely to spend $372,000 per child until he or she is 17. But, when a child has special needs, he or she often needs support well beyond 17 years – sometimes, for the rest of his or her life. However, Florida’s child support laws state that support stops at 18.
Extending Child Support in Florida
Typically, a child support obligation terminates on the child’s 18th birthday. However, Florida has special laws that apply specifically to children with special needs. These laws allow parents to extend child support past the 18-year mark. After all, a child with a physical or mental disability may be unable to work, may require around-the-clock care, may have extraordinary medical costs, and so forth. Therefore, the courts usually feel that the age of majority (18) is not applicable in that child’s case. The judge will usually extend the obligation.
Exceptions to Extensions
There is a catch to continuing child support. The child’s disability must happen before the child reaches the age of majority. So, if the child becomes disabled in an accident on his or her 21st birthday, the courts would not reverse and force the non-majority timesharing parent to pay child support again. Child support can be re-instated after 18 only if both parents make an agreement together that child support is necessary.
Secure Child Support for Your Special Needs Child
Whether your child has a physical or mental disability, you should not be the only parent paying for expenses related to his or her care.
Speak with an attorney from Beller & Bustamante, P.L. today to explore your options for child support. We can help establish child support amounts that reflect the real costs of raising a disabled child, but also ensure that your spouse does not try to cancel just because your child has reached the age of majority. Schedule a consultation with our family law advocates today at 904-288-4414 or request your consultation online.