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Does Child Support Reduce When a Child Turns 18 in California?

Nov 28, 2023 | Child Support, General Family Law

For parents facing divorce, the requirement of child support may be daunting. There are multiple considerations involved, including which parent will be the custodial parent and whether the custodial parent can afford to support the child on their own. Child support is intended to care for the child in the areas of food, clothing, shelter, medical care, school expenses, and other interests. Typically, child support is required through the age of eighteen, but there are a few notable exceptions below.

California child support law considers the following guidelines in determining child support:

  • Childcare cost
  • Payroll deductions and tax considerations
  • Gross income of each parent
  • Amount of time spent with child(ren)
  • Special needs, medical or otherwise
  • Whether a parent’s custodial time matches their financial contribution
  • Whether a high income would exceed the child’s support needs

State law employs a complex formula for calculating child support. The formula takes into account the amount of both parents’ income that will be allocated for the child, the higher-earning spouse’s available disposable income, the percentage of time the non-custodial parent will spend with the child, and the sum of both parents’ disposable income.

An experienced California child support lawyer can help you understand this process. In addition, these laws are often updated, and your attorney will keep you abreast of any recent changes.

Does child support reduce when a child turns 18 in California?

Does Child Support Reduce When a Child Turns 18 in California?

Child support is required until the child turns eighteen. It may be extended to age nineteen if the child still lives at home and attends high school. The intent is that the child is fully supported during education. After the child graduates from high school or turns eighteen, child support will typically no longer be paid.

In a case where a child seeks independence from the parents, emancipation may be granted. Child support may end through three types of emancipation:

  • Financial independence. Child support can end early if a child seeks emancipation and can demonstrate financial stability. Financial documents like pay stubs, tax records, and bank statements can prove financial independence.
  • A marriage certificate can end child support early.
  • Military service. An individual assumes adult responsibilities through service.

There are two other circumstances to consider, as well. Child support may continue beyond age eighteen if a child is disabled and can not self-support. Parents are required to support a disabled child until either the child is able to live alone or until that child dies. Also, in the unfortunate event of a child’s death, support will end.

When Can I Ask for Reductions in Child Support?

The law allows for modifying the amount of support if there is a significant change in the circumstances of the parent, like changes in either parent’s income. A court will determine if your financial change is significant and whether it will result in a modification of the support amount. You can make a modification request every three years.

You can ask for a modification when any of these circumstances present:

  • Loss of a job
  • Retirement
  • New job
  • Changes in income
  • Changes in earning ability
  • Changes in the other parent’s income
  • Custody changes
  • Birth of another child
  • Disability
  • Incarceration
  • Military deployment
  • Child’s financial necessities have changed

Life changes can impact your ability to pay the ordered amount of child support, and a careful evaluation of your financial circumstances can indicate whether you should seek a modification. A California child support attorney can also help you determine if you have a case for a modification. Your responsibility is to be prepared with the supporting documentation.

Are College Costs Included in Child Support?

State law does not mandate that a parent must pay college costs. As the child is 18 or over, they are considered an adult. No legal or financial obligation is made on either parent for college costs. Though there is no legal oversight here, parents can come to their own agreement over college expenses.


Q: What Is the New Child Support Law 2023 California?

A: The Child Support Law of 2023 in California has made changes to the formula the court uses to determine child support. This law increases the importance of time spent together with the child.

Further, it greatly expands the type of income that is considered for the paying parent. These considerations include the individual’s earning capability, education, health, age, and criminal record. In addition, it requires that child support be suspended on the first day of the first full month that the paying parent is incarcerated.

Q: How Much Should a Father Pay for Child Support in California?

A: The non-custodial parent can expect to pay 25% of their income in child support for one child. With additional children, the percentage of income goes up: for two children, 40%; for three children, 50%; and for four children, 60%. These are approximations and will vary according to your financial circumstances and other considerations.

Q: Do I Have to Pay Child Support if My Child Goes to College in California?

A: No, you do not have to pay child support for a child in college. Neither parent is obligated to pay for college, as the child is over 18 and considered an adult. Child support ends at age eighteen. It can be extended to age nineteen if the child lives at home and has not graduated from high school yet.

Q: How to Stop Child Support in California When a Child Turns 18?

A: Child support ends at 18 unless the child has not graduated from high school yet. In that case, child support will end either when the child completes high school or turns nineteen, whichever comes first. Child support can also terminate if a child is granted emancipation, marries, or joins the military.

Reach Out to a Santa Barbara Child Support Lawyer

Since California child support laws employ a complex formula to determine child support, navigating the complexities of child support laws can be quite challenging. However, the care and attention of a skilled attorney can assist you in maintaining the interests of your child. Let Drury Pullen, A Professional Law Corporation, assist you in achieving the clarity you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation.

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