Many parents are under the misconception that child support payments always end when the child turns 18. However, there are a few important exceptions to this rule in Washington State. Generally, child support is in place to make certain that children are taken care of by their parents until they are old enough to take care of themselves. However, if a child is mentally or physically disabled, they are not able to fully take care of themselves and need the ongoing financial support of their parents past the age of 18. In fact, some parents may be obligated to pay child support for their disabled adult children long after 18 years have passed. As long as the disability occurred before the child became an adult, his or her parents are responsible for their continued wellbeing.

How disabled does a child need to be in order to require ongoing child support payments from a parent? Over the years, the court has ruled that disabled adults who cannot fully support themselves are eligible for ongoing support. That is, if a disabled adult is not employable directly because of their disability or cannot make a living wage through their employment, a support order may be necessary.

How is the amount of ongoing child support determined by Washington State? Many states have found that normal child support guidelines are not appropriate to apply to disability cases because the needs of an adult disabled person are very different and can vary widely – adults have different needs than children and the disabled have different needs than others.

If you are not sure whether or not you will need to provide support payments to your disabled child after the age of 18, or if you are seeking information on whether your former spouse is obligated to continue payments, speak with a Seattle child support attorney.
Molly B. Kenny
Connect with me
Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington