Child Support Lawsuit by an Adult Child
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Can an Adult Child Sue a Parent for Unpaid Child Support?
Typically, an adult child cannot single-handedly file a lawsuit against a parent for unpaid child support. However, as described below, there may still be a few ways to sue for back child support and there is a situation where a parent may owe child support even if their child has reached adulthood.
Bringing Special Lawsuit in Arrears
There is a little legal wiggle room for an adult child to sue for child support in arrears if he or she is the representative of his or her custodial parent’s estate. In terms of child support, “in arrears” simply means that a parent failed to make child support payments, and owes back child support. If there was a court order in place before the child turned 18 years old (in some states, other age restrictions apply), the custodial parent can sue, or the adult child who represents the estate of the custodial parent can sue for back child support.
Issues with Lawsuits for Child Support in Arrears
Laws on back child support differ from one state to the next. In fact, some states have a statute of limitations on enforcing a court order, dependent on how long has passed before the child is considered an adult. A few applications to consider before filing a lawsuit for child support in arrears:
- A previous judgment by the court must exist that ordered child support payments.
- The parent in arrears must still owe the custodial parent child support.
- The judgment must be allowed by state law to merge with the custodial parent’s estate.
- The adult child must be court-appointed as the representative of the estate.
- If the adult child is not appointed, the custodial parent can will their estate to the child.
Child Support Owed for Care of Adult Child with Disabilities
While child support typically ends when the child turns reaches 18, graduates from high school, or becomes emancipated, there is one exception. The exception is if the child has a disability that prevents them from earning a living and support themselves. It includes physical and mental disabilities, including chronic mental illness such as schizophrenia. The focus is not really the exact type of disability, but instead if the adult child is able to look after themselves.
The court will calculate the amount of child support the same way they would calculate it for a minor. But they will consider if the adult child receives any money from the government to supplement their income. If you have an adult child that has a disability and have not been paying child support, then your adult child and/or guardian of the adult child can sue you for any child support that is owed.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
As noted above, many factors come into play with family law cases involving child support. Varying state laws can complicate the issue further. A qualified family law lawyer can assist you in determining whether you have a case, and help walk you through state laws and restrictions.
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Last Modified: 07-10-2017 12:09 PM PDT
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