April 5, 2013 By Paul Wallin

The general answer to this question is no. You do not have to pay for the living expenses for your children after they reach the age of 18. However, there are a few exceptions to this Child Support rule.

Your Child is Still in High School or Graduated from High School but Has Not Turned 18

One exception to this rule occurs when your unmarried child has not graduated high school when they reach age 18. California Family Code Section 3901(a) provides several instances when you must continue providing child support even when your child is 18 years old or has graduated high school already.

1.    If your child graduates from high school before his or her 18th birthday, then you must continue to pay child support until your child turns 18.
2.    If your child turns 18 years old before he or she graduates from high school, you must continue to pay child support until your child graduates from high school. Your child must be enrolled in high school full-time for this provision to apply.
3.    However, if your child turns 19 years old before graduating from high school, you are no longer obligated to pay child support.

It is important for you to understand that your obligation to pay child support may also terminate when your child is married, joins the military, or is declared independent.

Agreement to Pay Child’s College Tuition

Another exception to this rule is that if you and the other parent entered into a marital settlement agreement where you agreed to pay for your child’s college tuition. (Family Code Section 3901(b)). In this case, you are obligated to fulfill the duties in the settlement agreement and pay for the child’s college tuition. If you do not pay for your child’s tuition, you will be in violation of a court order and can be held in contempt by the court.

There are some cases in which you may not have to pay for your child’s college tuition even when you agreed to it in your marital settlement agreement. We recently had a case where our client had agreed to pay for his son’s college tuition on the condition that he would be able to jointly select the college that his son would attend with the other parent. However, the other parent did not consult with our client before allowing their son to enroll in an expensive private college. The court held that our client had no financial obligation to pay for his son’s college tuition.

Wallin & Klarich Family Law Attorney

The cost for your child’s college education can often run in excess of $100,000. In most cases, you are not legally obligated to pay for any expenses for your child, including college tuition, once they are 18 years old, graduated from high school, or turn 19 while still enrolled full-time in high school. However, as outlined above, there are certain situations where you can become legally obligated to do so.

In order to protect your finances as well as your legal rights, you need to contact a Wallin & Klarich Child SUpport Family Law Attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klrich, we have over 30 years of experience successfully protecting our client’s legal rights and financial interests. We understand that the child support process can be complicated, but we will be there to guide you through every step of the way. Our offices are located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, and Sherman Oaks.

Call us today at (888) 749-7428. We will be there when you call.

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