Child Support FAQs

For How Long Is A Parent Legally Required To Pay Child Support? Are There Extenuating Circumstances That Would Require A Parent To Pay Child Support For A Longer Period Of Time?

Arizona law does not generally require payment of child support after the child reaches the age of eighteen. There are some important exceptions, though. One is if the child is still in high school or an equivalency program. If the child is still in high school or an equivalency program, child support will continue until the child reaches the age of nineteen. This is true even if the child is still in high school or an equivalency program at the age of 19. In most cases, 19 is going to be the upper limit.

In case where a child has severe mental or physical disabilities as demonstrated by the fact that the child is unable to live independently and be self-supporting, child support can continue beyond the age of 19. However, this exception applies only if the disability began before the child reached the age of majority. In some states, parents can be forced to pay the college education costs of their child, but that is not the case in Arizona.

Many times, clients want to put a clause in the final divorce decree or custody order that they will pay for the child’s education costs. However, they should be strongly discouraged from doing that. Although that seems cruel, there is a reason for this advice. Things can change. The father may not be able to earn as much money by the time the child reaches college age. Or the child and father may have a falling out. Or the father may have a new family and need to allocate resources differently. Unless you can predict the future, which nobody truly can, it is not wise to agree to pay for a college education, because you just don’t know what things will be like when that time comes.

More importantly, once you make this kind of agreement, it becomes an order of the court and if you don’t comply, you can be thrown in jail like a common criminal. Nobody will have any sympathy for you. You agreed to it, so you must uphold your end of the deal. And even if you can easily afford the cost of the child’s education, you may not agree with the college or the course of study but you’ll have no say in that. All you’ll have is the obligation to fork over the funds for the now adult-child to use as he/she sees fit. You’ll have no control over grades or misconduct. In other words, you may not feel like forking over tens of thousands of dollars for a child who is getting bad grades, but you’ll have no choice, and there’s always the threat of jail hanging over your head.

Another important reason not to agree to pay the child’s college costs is that once it becomes a court order, it won’t be appreciated as much. That means that if the court order requires the father to pay the college education costs of the child, even though the father is the very person who generously insisted that the agreement be made a court order, the child and the child’s mother will not appreciate it as much as they would if the father were voluntarily sending the money to the child for the college education costs. The child and the child’s mother will just think “well, he’s just doing what the judge ordered him to do.” It’s good to be generous, but at the same time, you need to make sure that your generosity is acknowledged and appreciated.

If you want to know How Long Is A Parent Required To Pay Child Support, call Thomas Law Office, PLC for a consultation at (602) 788-1395 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.