Florida law requires all child support orders to include a date when the payments end, specifying that they terminate on the child’s 18th birthday. If there is more than one child included in the child support order, the support payments are calculated for each child when he or she reaches the age of 18 years. You should be aware that if your Florida child support order was signed prior to October of 2010, it may not have a payment termination date.
The goal of the law requiring a payment end date was to eliminate the need for parents to have to return to court to obtain an order terminating the child support payments. However, in reality it sometimes works easily and sometimes it does not.
If you make direct payments to the other parent pursuant to the terms of your child support order and the order states that the payments terminate upon the child’s 18th birthday, you can simply stop mailing the checks. You do not have to file anything further.
If you make your child support payments directly to the State of Florida (or your employer makes the payment on your behalf), things can be a bit more complicated. Florida’s State Disbursement Unit, which is operated by the Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement, manages and maintains records of child support payments. The agency receives your child support payments (typically via an Income Withholding Order) and makes the appropriate disbursements. Even if your child support order contains a termination date, you must still obtain an order from the judge terminating the disbursement account. Failure to do so could result in you being accused of not paying child support.
Finally, it is important to note that Florida law also contains a provision that allows child support payments to extend until the child reaches the age of 19 years. This usually occurs when the child will not graduate high school by the time he or she turns 18 years of age. The child support order can be extended until your child has graduated high school, but 19 years is typically the maximum age for a child to be receiving child support. There are certain exceptions to this general rule, such as if the child has special needs and requires additional support.