Texas Law and Child Support for Over 18: Under What Circumstances?

Understanding Texas Child Support Laws for Adult Children

In Texas, the law typically mandates that child support obligations end when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. However, there are specific circumstances under which a parent might continue to provide child support for a child over the age of 18. This article explores these conditions and provides insight into how Texas law addresses child support for adult children.

Extended Child Support in Texas

Extended child support may be required in Texas if an adult child has a physical or mental disability that causes them to require substantial care and personal supervision. The Texas Family Code Section 154.302 allows for child support to be extended beyond the age of 18 in such situations if the disability existed before the age of 18 or if it developed after but is directly related to a condition that existed before that age.

Another instance where child support may continue beyond the age of 18 is when the child is still enrolled in high school and has not yet graduated. In such cases, support obligations typically extend until graduation. However, if a child drops out of school and later re-enrolls, the court may or may not decide to reinstate child support payments, depending on the specific circumstances.

Case Studies and Historical References

Historically, there have been landmark cases that have helped shape the current understanding of extended child support laws in Texas. For example, Rosenberg v. Rosenberg was a pivotal case where the court ruled in favor of continuing child support payments due to the adult child's incapacitating disability that existed prior to reaching the age of majority.

In another example, the case of In re A.M., a court found that a parent's obligation to pay child support was not automatically extinguished when a disabled adult child reached 18 but had to be determined based on the individual's specific needs and circumstances.

Process for Requesting Extended Support

To request extended child support in Texas, the custodial parent must file a motion with the court that initially ordered support. The petition should clearly state the reasons for requesting continued assistance, providing evidence of the child's disability or ongoing education status.

The court will then consider various factors such as the nature and extent of the disability, whether continuing support would enable further education or training, and any financial resources available to the adult child before making a decision.

Conclusion

Child support laws in Texas are designed to protect children's interests and ensure they receive adequate care and support from their parents. While most child support obligations end when a child reaches adulthood, exceptions exist for disabled adult children or those who are still completing their high school education. Parents navigating these laws must understand their rights and responsibilities, as well as the legal process involved in seeking or contesting extended support.