Child Support for Disabled Children in Alabama
Every state has established its own laws regarding the duty of non-custodial parents to pay child support. In most cases, child support is required until the child reaches the age of majority, which also differs from one state to the next. In some states, there are exceptions to the rule that the duty to pay child support ends when the child is no longer a minor, such as support for educational expenses. That is no longer the case in Alabama, since the Alabama Supreme Court case Christopher v. Christopher, which ended the duty to provide post-majority support. However, an exception still remains for adult children with disabilities.
Post-majority child support for the disabled
In 1983, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld an order of payment of post-majority support for a disabled child in Ex Parte Brewington. Since that time, additional case law has provided the answers to some important questions regarding this important rule. For instance, the age of the child at the time of the divorce has no bearing on whether there is a duty to provide support, as long as the child’s disability arose during childhood and continues into adulthood.
How is the amount of support determined?
The child support guidelines used to determine a general child support award is also used for disabled children. The determination must include factors such as the child’s specific needs and social security or other income from government benefit programs.
What constitutes a “disability” with regard to child support?
There is no real statutory definition of disability that requires support from a noncustodial parent beyond the age of majority. One Alabama Supreme Court case has set out some factors to be considered, including:
- whether the adult child is capable of earning an income sufficient to provide for his or her reasonable living expenses, and
- whether the adult child’s mental or physical disability is the cause of his or her inability to earn that income.
If you have questions regarding child support, or any other family law matter, contact us online or by calling us at (205) 739-2422.