Adult Child Support for Special Needs Children in California

Under California law, child support ends when a child reaches the age of majority (18-years-of-age), or when the child graduates high school, whichever happens later. But what if that child is disabled? What if the child has down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, or another disabling condition that prevents the child from becoming self-supporting?

In California, it is possible for a family court to order a parent to pay child support beyond the age of 18, or beyond high school graduation when the child is disabled. When it comes to childhood disability, there are different kinds. Congenital disorders, such as down syndrome are present at birth.

Some conditions, such as hearing problems, heart conditions, or autism develop after birth. Others, are the result of an injury, such as a car accident, falling from a second or third-floor window, falling off a horse, or having a near-drowning accident, or from an infection.

Challenges Being Self-Supporting

While there are many reasons why an adult child may be disabled to the point they cannot support themselves, we thought we’d share a little information about autism and how it impacts employment.

According to Autism Speaks: “Of the nearly 18,000 people with autism who used state-funded vocational rehabilitation programs in 2014, only 60 percent left the program with a job. Of these, 80 percent worked part-time at a median weekly rate of $160, putting them well below the poverty level.” What’s more, almost half of the 25-year-olds who have been diagnosed with autism have never had a paying job.

If you have a child with special needs who is quickly approaching adulthood and you have questions about paying adult child support, we encourage you to contact our firm to discuss your case. Since no two situations are identical, we’d need to evaluate the facts in order to answer your questions. We can also explain how SSI, Social Security, or SSI benefits for a disabled adult child may impact your support obligation.