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Child Support May Not End at Age 18 When Special Needs Children Are Involved

Roughly 14 percent of children in the United States have some type of disability. These conditions, typically referred to as special needs, can range from mild disorders such as ADD to severe conditions such as autism and cerebral palsy. When the parents of special needs children get divorced, special considerations regarding child support come into play because these children have unique needs.

In Rhode Island, parents are required to support a child until the child reaches 18 years of age. However, when a special needs child is involved, typical child support considerations may not adequately address the child’s needs. There are often different financial considerations for these types of children for two reasons: their medical expenses are often quite large and a parent often cannot work outside the home because of the child’s needs. Another issue that arises with these children that doesn’t arise with typically developing children is that their needs don’t end at age 18 but continue well into adulthood. These children still have extensive medical and other care needs at age 18 and beyond.

If a child suffers from a physical or mental disability in Rhode Island and is still under the care of a parent beyond the age of 18, the court may order child support. In reaching a determination regarding support for a disabled child, the court considers the following factors:

  • The nature and extent of the disability
  • The cost of the extraordinary medical expenses
  • The financial resources of the child
  • The financial resources of the parents
  • The child’s ability to earn income
  • The parent’s inability to obtain employment because of the extensive needs of the child

If you have a special needs child and require assistance with obtaining child support, working with a quality Rhode Island child support attorney can help your family.

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