Child Support for Disabled Adults

As you may already be aware from our other articles, child support ordinarily terminates when the child reaches age 18. And if the child is unlikely to finish high school by age 18, support continues until high school graduation occurs, or until the 19th birthday arrives, whichever happens first.

There is another important circumstance, though, when the court may order child support to continue beyond that child’s age of majority and into adulthood. For the court to order such support, the adult-child must have a significant mental or physical disability that prevents him or her from living independently. The controlling Arizona statutory provision is found in A.R.S. § 25-320(E):

E. Even if a child is over the age of majority when a petition is filed or at the time of the final decree, the court may order support to continue past the age of majority if all of the following are true:

  1. The court has considered the factors prescribed in subsection D of this section. [Court has applied the Arizona Child Support Guidelines.]
  2. The child is severely mentally or physically disabled as demonstrated by the fact that the child is unable to live independently and be self-supporting.
  3. The child’s disability began before the child reached the age of majority. …

For this provision to apply in any given case, the adult-child must have manifested the disability during his or her minority. The court may order support to be paid to the adult-child or to the parent who provides the requisite care to that son or daughter.

When addressing child support for disabled adults, there are many important factors to consider. For some parents, child support ends when the child reaches the age of majority. For other parents, it may not end until the child has graduated from college. And for some parents, the support may continue into their disabled child’s adulthood.