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Question about term of child support payments for handicapped child.

Started by Fas, Nov 17, 2007, 10:45:26 AM

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What is the common requirement for support for handicapped child, when Divorce decree does not reference other than termination per state guidelines (Arkansas)?   As Non Custodial Parent (NCP), I have maintained long term support for my Downs Syndrome child who is coming of age for 18 birthday in two months.   My divorce decree from Arkansas stated that 18 or graduation from High School, Child Support (CS) ended  

In speaking with Custodial Parent (CP), I found out their plan is to continue child in high school repeating current senior year over and over again till school will not allow child to return.  CP has NO plans for SSI or any other support than CS and Medicaid.   CP also updated expectation that I as NCP would continue to provide CS for life for the child to CP.    In addition, CP has started filing for guardianship of child for issues post 18, and asked for myself to sign over rights for the support of Adult child.  

As per divorce decree, I provide support based on 2.5 Chart Rate CS per income, so this is not a trivial amount.   My concern is having the child in repeating class cycle even though school has noted that being ready to graduate.    Plus, CP is not filing for any support like SSI or SSID, to prepare for adult support including medical expenses.   While not retired, I am approaching/planning retirement years in near term, which will put me in hard situation for 2.5 chart support for lifetime.

I am not sure who or what would legal body would requirement me to provide this even if child completes high school, when the divorce decree did not list this as a requirement.   The CP updated on expectation that support payments would continue through clearinghouse via payroll deductions for perpetuity to the CP, which I do not believe can continue nor is there a legal obligation.  

The child does not have medical, health, or life requirements other than standard expenses (At this point - but has been in good health for years with no issues pending - Thank Goodness!).   Child is working in part time job for life skills and associating with Downs groups in preparation for extended adult home living.    Child receives income (minimal wage) for part time work and plans to go to full time post school.  The CP plans to move child from part time extended adult home living to    part time post high school to prepare for lifetime events.  

As a footnote: I do not want to come across as someone who does not provide or take care of child ... but I have great concerns on assumption of lifetime commitment to the *CP* ... and not the child.   I have supported outside of CS to child, and plan to continue for Adult needs, but did not plan to have to route this through the *CP*.    

leon clugston

every state has its different specifications when it comes to needy children. But most do have stipulations, and are required when said child reaches age of alleged maturity but still has special needs under the federal guidelines set forth per the cooperative agreements, in particular when said child is on SSI, Medicaid, medicare etc... You have touched a hollow ground my freind that may or may not be complicated, depending on how the state wants to go about it. The easiest way to see where youre standing is look in youre state statutes on marital and children, or welfare and dependants, ie. in special cases.
As far as signing over youre rights, thats a personal decision that you youreself needs to weigh, but another option that may be enlighting is if the child is able to llive on his/ her own, or under limited care, this option may be one way to even the cards, as to where both of you would be required to assist or provide for the needs.


but I would think that unless there was a change in circumstances your parenting agreement would stand. That would mean 18 or graduation.

As far as school goes, why don't you call his/her guidenace councelor and ask them why your child wouldn't be allowed to graduate? I would ask them for documentation stating that your child qualifies for graduation.

This is a special area of the law, so it may be best if you hire an attorey or even get a free consultation on your rights.

Best of luck


You're asking the wrong question.  Almost every state relies on common law for support for handicapped children after the age of 18.  It has nothing to do with extending graduation but whether or not the child is competent to live apart from the custodial parent and earn enough money to live independently.  From what you've said, it sounds like the child will never accomplish this.

Ark. Code Ann. §9-12-312(a)(5)(B), "The court may also provide for the
continuation of support for an individual with a disability which affects the
ability of the individual to live independently from the custodial parent."

From:  http://www.ncsl.org/programs/cyf/adultsupport.htm


Thanks for update.   But I can state that divorce decree only referenced age of majority for termination of child support so it was not entered into record for that statue.

So it is back to "Termination of support at 18 or when child graduates from high school"  and in following if child remains in high school till 21.  

Lastly, I guess is it possible that guardianship actions could decree adult support instructions.   At time of divorce, I never thought about mandated  adult support for life to CP.    


The divorce decree doesn't say what happens if the child is handicapped.  So the court will uphold state law. And it will always side on what's best for the child, particularly one who is handicapped.

But ask an attorney.


lilywhite is right. It has nothing to do with the decree. In some states, you have a legal obligation to support handicapped children whether you're divorced or still married. Your divorce decree can't override state law (although I assume that it is possible for one parent to agree to pick up the share for both parents if it is set up that way).

See what your state law says rather than worrying about what your divorce decree says.