Children With Mental and Physical Disabilities May Qualify for Child Support as Adults
Child support is intended to help parents provide for their minor children. Generally, an order for child support will terminate once the child turns 18 years old. If the child is still enrolled in high school at age 18, the child support is extended through age 19. However, there are some instances where child support orders can extend past the usual age 18 or 19 cutoff.
A child who is physically or mentally disabled may not be able to care for himself or herself and will therefore need the assistance of a parent or guardian well into adulthood. In cases such as these, courts may order one or both parents to continue to contribute to support. These support orders can last as long as the court finds necessary to secure the disabled child’s quality of life.
Not Every Disability Necessitates Ongoing Support
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) provides instructions for when a person with a disability qualifies for continued support as an adult. According to the IMDMA, a disabled person is someone with a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” So, minor disabilities which do not impair the individual’s ability to participate in life activities do not meet the required criteria for non-minor support.
Another stipulation of the law is that the mental or physical disability the person needing support has must have become apparent when the child was of an age that he or she would have received traditional child support or support for college expenses. A person who develops a disability after this time period may not qualify for ongoing support under the IMDMA.
Court-Ordered Non-Minor Support Considerations
The court will consider many factors when deciding if non-minor support is necessary and appropriate in a given situation as well as how much support payments should be. Courts consider factors including
- The standard of living the disabled person most likely would have experienced if his or her parents had stayed married;
- The present and projected future financial situation for each parent, including retirement savings;
- The disabled person’s own financial resources; and
- The disabled person’s participation in benefit programs including Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.
Any non-minor support payments that are ordered can be paid to one of the parents or through a trust created for the purpose of caring for the disabled person. Alternatively, the support can be ordered as payable to a special needs trust designed to provide for the child’s needs. This route also protects the disabled person’s eligibility for governmental benefits.
We Can Help
If you have further questions about supporting a non-minor child with a disability, contact an experienced Geneva family law attorney. Call 630-232-9700 to schedule a confidential consultation at The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates today.