When Does Child Support Really End?
Most people are under the assumption that child support is just that, support for a child and ends when the child turns 18. However, in Minnesota Minn. Stat. 518A.26 controls this issue and says, generally
that child support will continue until 1) the child is 18 AND 2) graduates from high school or 3) if due to physical or mental disability is unable to care for themselves. It’s this last one that is rarely even considered in Minnesota Divorce Courts, but a somewhat significant case came out last week at addresses this very topic.
In Hanratty v. Hanratty, the “child” in question is 32 years old and now lives in a group home due to severe disability. Ten years ago when the parties divorced the Judge ordered $2,000 of child support to be paid by the father, to the mother (who was caring for him) until the child died. The father brought a motion asking that he not be required to pay any more, primarily because if the father did not pay the child support the entire cost would be picked up by the state. This means there is no additional costs to care for the Hanratty’s offspring by either the mother or father! However, the Court of Appeals said no, nothing has changed and the father is still required to pay the $2,000/month. There is, of course, a public policy issue here that is well above my pay-grade, but as a practical matter this is a significant expense that neither the mother nor the father anticipated for so long.
It seems that this issue is going to appear more and more and your lawyer needs to know about any health issues your child may have. With the rise in autism and the ability for people with serious disabilities to live a long life, the issue of paying child support past 18 is still very much alive. So, the lesson of this post is if your child has a serious condition, be sure to let your attorney at the beginning of the case.
As always, if you have questions or comments either post them or email me at www.rokolaw.com
Rosengren, Kohlmeyer & Hagen Law Office
Mankato, MN 56001