Under California law,
child support ends when a child reaches the age of majority (18-years-of-age), or when
the child graduates high school, whichever happens later. But what if
that child is disabled? What if the child has down syndrome, autism, cerebral
palsy, or another disabling condition that prevents the child from becoming
In California, it is possible for a family court to order a parent to pay
child support beyond the age of 18, or beyond high school graduation when
the child is disabled. When it comes to childhood disability, there are
different kinds. Congenital disorders, such as down syndrome are present at birth.
Some conditions, such as hearing problems, heart conditions, or autism
develop after birth. Others, are the result of an injury, such as a car
accident, falling from a second or third-floor window, falling off a horse,
or having a near-drowning accident, or from an infection.
Challenges Being Self-Supporting
While there are many reasons why an adult child may be disabled to the
point they cannot support themselves, we thought we’d share a little
information about autism and how it impacts employment.
Autism Speaks: “Of the nearly 18,000 people with autism who used state-funded
vocational rehabilitation programs in 2014, only 60 percent left the program
with a job. Of these, 80 percent worked part-time at a median weekly rate
of $160, putting them well below the poverty level.” What’s
more, almost half of the 25-year-olds who have been diagnosed with autism
have never had a paying job.
Can Child Support Be Avoided With Joint Custody?
If you have a child with special needs who is quickly approaching adulthood
and you have questions about paying adult child support, we encourage you to
contact our firm to discuss your case. Since no two situations are identical, we’d
need to evaluate the facts in order to answer your questions. We can also
explain how SSI, Social Security, or SSI benefits for a disabled adult
child may impact your support obligation.