Written by attorney Jill Marie Ganser Byers

Georgia Child Support when the oldest child reaches 18

In many divorce or legitimation orders, the child support amount is based on two or more children. Most often, the child support order requires the noncustodial parent to pay child support for each child until that child either turns 18 years old, becomes self-supporting (works full-time, year round), marries, dies, or is emancipated (no longer lives with the custodial parent), whichever of these events occurs first. There is also normally an exception that if the child is still in high school at the age of 18, the non-custodial parent must continue to pay child support until either the child graduates high school or turns 20, whichever occurs first.

As a general rule, the more children, the more child support the noncustodial parent is required to pay the custodial parent. When the child support order is based on more than one child, one child usually will “age out" before the other child(ren) does.

Does this mean that the noncustodial parent can automatically reduce the child support payment because one of the children is past the age of support? No!!! In Georgia, Judges almost never agree to enter an order which automatically reduces the child support based on the older child “aging out." This means that if the non-custodial parent reduces their child support payments without the court’s permission, they risk being found in contempt of court. Accordingly, if the non-custodial parent wishes to reduce their child support obligation based on their oldest child “aging out" he or she must file a Petition for Modification of Child Support. If no such modification action is filed, the noncustodial parent will be obligated to pay the full child support amount until the youngest child “ages out."

If you would like to attempt to modify your child support amount downward due to your oldest child reaching the age or life circumstance where you are no longer required to pay child support, it is important to meet with an attorney for many reasons. Georgia’s child support laws were drastically changed in 2007, which means the way child support is calculated is much different today than it was if your support obligation was established prior to 2007. Additionally, if there has been a significant change in either you or your ex’s income or your child(ren)’s needs, filing a modification could actually be disadvantageous to you. It is important to speak to an experienced family law attorney to establish whether a modification action will be in your best interest. While you will incur attorney’s fees filing for a modification of child support, the amount you will save in the long run if your monthly child support obligation is decreased may make it well worth it. This is especially true if your youngest child(ren) is significantly younger than your oldest child meaning that you will be paying child support for years to come even though you are no longer obligated to pay child support for your oldest child.

The above information is meant to be general information only and is not legal advice.

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