Washington State Child Support Laws for Children Over the Age of 18 Years

By Beverly Bird

Divorce doesn't always wait until your children are old enough to fly the nest – nor does it always happen when they're little. If you and your spouse part ways while your children are teenagers, some additional rules apply regarding their support. Those laws in Washington State aren't much different from the laws of other states.

Divorce doesn't always wait until your children are old enough to fly the nest – nor does it always happen when they're little. If you and your spouse part ways while your children are teenagers, some additional rules apply regarding their support. Those laws in Washington State aren't much different from the laws of other states.

Age of Majority

The age of majority in Washington is age 18. If you're filing for divorce and you have a child who is 18 or older, your decree may or may not include a child support obligation, depending on several circumstances and whether you have other children. Even if you are not legally obligated to pay child support for your 18-year-old, you would still have to pay for your younger children. However, your obligation would be reduced somewhat because it provides for one less dependent.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Other Factors for Support

If your child turns 18 in January but doesn't graduate from high school until June, your decree will probably include provisions that you pay support until she finishes school. If it's silent on the issue, giving no specific cutoff date, your support obligation terminates on her 18th birthday. Your spouse can file a motion with the court at that time, asking to continue the support order until your child graduates. If your child is disabled and incapable of caring for herself, support can continue indefinitely or until she's no longer considered disabled. Other factors can terminate support sooner than your child's 18th birthday. For example, if she marries before turning 18, she moves beyond her need for your support and your obligation ends.

Post-secondary Education

If your child wants to go to college, your financial obligation may be extended. Depending on how old she is when your divorce is final, provisions for post-secondary education might be included in your decree, or you might have to go back to court later to address them. Washington State courts are willing to order support for college expenses if your child enrolls at an accredited institution. The judge weighs several factors when deciding whether to make you responsible for at least some of these educational costs. These factors would likely include whether your child always intended to go college, if she would have gone to college if you and your spouse had stayed married -- and if so, how much financial help you would have provided for her. If the court orders support for college past the age of 18, you may be able to pay your child directly, or make payments to her school. In no case would this support continue past her 23rd birthday.

Terminating Support

According to Washington attorney Molly B. Kenny, you can legally stop paying support when your child achieves an event that terminates it by law, such as reaching 18 or getting married. If you have other, younger children, however, you have to file a motion with the court for modification of the support terms of your decree. If your divorce isn't final yet, you can make a request of the court to have a specific time of termination included in your decree, such as age 18, or upon completion of high school. This can avoid confusion later on.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How To Stop Alaska Child Support for My Daughter, Who Turned 18

References

Related articles

The Child Support Obligation for a Non-Custodial Parent According to the Law in Illinois

Illinois is one of only 10 jurisdictions that still calculates child support the good, old-fashioned way, based only on the non-custodial parent's income. Along with eight other states and the District of Columbia, Illinois courts use the percentage of obligor's income formula for determining a non-custodial parent's obligation. This formula doesn't incorporate your spouse's earnings, but if you're divorcing and you think you'll be the non-custodial parent, it makes it relatively easy to understand what your obligation will be going forward.

Does Child Support Automatically Stop When a Child Turns 18 in Maryland?

Child support laws often confound parents because the finer points change from state to state and few universal, hard-and-fast rules exist. Child support might end at age 18 or not until age 21, depending on where you live. It might stop automatically when your child reaches a certain age or a milestone event, or you may have to take legal action to end your responsibility for paying it. Maryland's laws are a little more confusing than most because the state attempted legislation in 2011 that failed. As a result, some parents may not be sure what the current rules are.

Divorce Laws in California Regarding Education & Children

In the heat of divorce, issues of child custody and support are at the forefront of your mind. They must be resolved before you and your spouse can officially part ways, but your children have educational needs, too. These should be addressed in the divorce agreement as well, but it's not mandatory in California. You and your spouse can negotiate post-divorce terms for your children's education in a marital settlement agreement, or you can ask the court to decide these terms at trial. If you don't, the issue can be easily overlooked.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Can You Owe Child Support After a Child Is 21?

Nothing about divorce is ever totally black-and-white, including child support. Under most circumstances, you won't ...

Child Support Laws for Non-Minors in Texas

If you're facing divorce and you have grown children, the court probably will not order you to pay child support on ...

How to Terminate Child Support in Arkansas

In Arkansas, certain events automatically end the obligation to pay child support, provided that your settlement ...

Can You Get Child Support Stopped at 18 if a Child Is in Secondary School?

Most states agree that your child has the right to finish secondary school without worrying about supporting himself ...

Browse by category