Q: At what point do child support payments stop? Does child support go through college graduation or does it end at 18?
It ends at 18 unless a child is still in high school, and then it goes on until they graduate from high school. But if you’re child is still in high school at 19, then it cuts off at 19 no matter what.
Q: If there are multiple children in a family, is the amount of support the same for each child?
No. The way support works with multiple kids is you pay the most for the youngest child, and then a little less for the next one, and a little less for the next. In other words, once the oldest child is no longer eligible, the support isn’t cut in half.
If there are two kids, it actually goes down much less. The idea is that two and three live as cheap as one so the cost of a second and third child is not double or triple of having one; it is less than that.
Q: If one of the three children becomes 18, does the child support go down by a third?
No. Generally, if you have three children and one turns 18, people normally rerun new calculations for the remaining kids just because incomes may have changed. If you don’t do that, some child support orders actually break it out, (you know, X amount of dollars assigned to each child,) so you know how much it goes down. Usually, if it’s been a few years or so, they’ll just rerun a whole new calculation.
Q: Can the child support arrangement be changed verbally between the parents?
That can be a dangerous thing to do because what happens in six months, or a year, when the other side comes back and denies that they agreed to it?
These problems always come up when there’s a misunderstanding or somebody is now lying about it. At a minimum, you will at least want any email exchange or written agreement between the two of you. Even though sometimes these informal agreements aren’t held up in court, it is easy to get a quick motion on file. You don’t even need to have a lawyer to do that.
It is really important to just get the paperwork on file to make sure that even though you have a verbal agreement, they won’t go back on their word.
Q: If the custody arrangement changes, does child support change as well?
One of the quirks of the law is that if you’re paying child support, and then the kids all come to live with you, and you quit paying without going to court without changing your order, you have a valid reason for not paying.
So, in general, you’re probably not going to have to pay back support even though you didn’t bother getting the order changed but as always, everyone’s facts and circumstances are unique so you should talk with an experienced child support lawyer and not rely on what you read on the web.