Does child support end once my child turns 18?

Children are eligible for child support until they reach the age of 21, but special criteria apply for the continuance of child support between the ages of 18 and 21. For child support to be continued during that time period, the child must qualify as a “child attending school” (see below).

In Oregon, a court may provide for the support of a “child attending school” anytime during or after a divorce. To qualify, the child must be 18-21 years of age, unmarried, enrolled at least half-time at a school, community college, college, university, or regularly attending professional vocational or technical training, and must be making satisfactory progress as defined by the school.

Additionally, once a child qualifies as a “child attending school”, child support must be paid directly to the child unless the court orders the money to be distributed otherwise. The child may use the child support at his or her discretion. This means that the child is not required to use the money to pay for tuition, books and supplies, but rather can use the money however he or she best judges that it should be spent.

Both parents should remain actively involved in their child’s education to ensure that child support is being used optimally for the child’s advancement. Parents should advise their child that he or she only qualifies as a “child attending school” if the above criteria are met. Continued receipt of child support will provide added incentive for children to excel academically, and an opportunity to learn to manage finances wisely.