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Think child support ends at 18? In California, maybe not.

In California, there are several misconceptions out there regarding the state’s child support laws — especially when it comes to how long child support needs to be paid.

For instance, some believe child support automatically ends when the child turns 18, while others think the obligation continues until he or she graduates college. Well, for many families, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

So when does child support end?

According to California law, child support payments continue until a child turns 18-years-old AND graduates from high school, provided that he or she is a full-time student, unmarried and is still living with a parent. This means that child support can continue until well after a child’s 18th birthday, particularly if their birthday is early in the school year.

However, there is one very important caveat to this rule: child support cannot continue past the child’s 19th birthday. Essentially, this means that child support will end as soon as the child completes the 12th grade or turns 19-years-old, whichever occurs first.

It is also important to remember, though, that parents are certainly free to agree to support a child for a longer period than required by law. In fact, one a California’s child support statutes states that it does not limit “a parent’s ability to agree to provide additional support.” In addition, California courts retain the power to determine whether such an agreement actually exists.

If you have questions about child support, including questions related to child support modifications, you need to contact the experienced attorneys at The Law Office of Patricia A. Hendrickson right away.

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