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Age Child Support Ends
Generally, in Georgia child support terminates once the minor child/children for whom support is being provided turn 18 years of age. However, Georgia law allows for child support to endure past a child’s 18th birthday under certain circumstances, especially if the parents agree to such an extended duration in their Marital Dissolution Agreement. According to Georgia law, court ordered child support may end when one of the following circumstances occurs:
- Upon the child reaching the age of majority, unless there is a provision that child support should continue through the child’s secondary school education up to age 20. The parent’s may, by agreement, provide that the child support continue for a longer period. However, without the parent’s consent, neither a court nor a jury can require that a parent support a child beyond age 18, except a court or jury may provide that child support continue until age 20 if the child is still enrolled in secondary school.
- Upon the marriage of the child.
- Upon the death of the minor child.
- Upon the death of the obligated parent.
- Upon the death of the parent who is the legal custodian of the child.
- If the obligated parent acquires legal custody of the child.
- As is otherwise mandated by the court’s final decree.
See O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(e); Golden v. Golden, 230 Ga. 867 (1973); Brooks v. Jones, 227 Ga. 566 (1971); Clavin v. Clavin, 238 Ga. 421 (1977); Cleveland v. Tully, 232 Ga. 377 (1974); Roberts v. Roberts, 231 Ga. 370 (1973); McCord v. McCord, 233 Ga. 421 (1975).
Although the above recitation of Georgia law may seem relatively straight forward, there is often debate among parents when entering into a Marital Dissolution Agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement regarding when exactly child support should end. As indicated above in section 1, child support may endure past the age of 18 if the child is still enrolled in secondary school. If this is the case, child support may continue until the child reaches the age of 20. Additionally, the law allows for parents to mutually agree for child support to endure for a longer period. It is this allowance that is often the crux of debates between parents regarding when child support should end. Although a court may not require a parent to support a minor child beyond the age of 18, or 20 if the child is still enrolled in secondary school, the parents may agree to such an arrangement. Id.
Often disagreements arise when one parent, often the custodial parent, seeks for child support to endure pas the age of 20, and the other parent refuses to agree to such an arrangement. For example, a parent may wish for child support to endure until the child completes 4 years of undergraduate study. Not only may disagreements stem from one parent desiring for child support to endure past the child’s 20th birthday, but parents may also disagree on whether child support should endure past the age of majority. Although a court may not order a parent to support a child past his or her 20th birthday without the parents’ consent, the court may order a parent to support a child past the age of majority. But, the court will only do so if the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child and is equitable under the circumstances of the specific case. This is why, if at all possible, it is advisable for parents to reach a mutually acceptable agreement regarding the duration of child support, because a court’s determination of the matter may prove unsatisfactory to both parents.
Every case is different, and often creative solutions are necessary to suit the best interests of the children and the parents involved in a divorce or child custody dispute. Thus, if you are facing either a divorce, child custody battle or child support matter, be sure to seek the counsel of an experienced and creative team of Georgia divorce attorneys to help you navigate the often complex arena of Georgia family law.