Does Maryland/D.C. Child Support Automatically End at 18?

Teenager riding a kick scooter flat illustration

Not in the District of Columbia and not necessarily in Maryland. In both Maryland and the District of Columbia, child support payments continue until the child’s “age of majority.” In Maryland, that is 18 years old, and in DC, that is 21 years old. Thus, in the District of Columbia, child support is often required until the child turns 21. In Maryland, child support payments often end on the child’s 18th birthday but can be required beyond the age of 18, where a child is expected to still be in their final year of high school. Finally, note that in both jurisdictions, there are cases where child support can go beyond even the age of majority (such as when the child has medical and/or disability conditions).

Those are the general rules set down in the Maryland and D.C. divorce statutes. However, the most specific answer for your case is found in your final divorce decree Order (your Final Order of Dissolution of Marriage). Your divorce decree will state the age of termination and will, hopefully, state that child support payments end automatically so that the couple can avoid returning to court. Indeed, one reason for hiring experienced Maryland and District of Columbia divorce lawyers — like the ones at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl — is to ensure that such automatic termination language is included in your final divorce decree. Experienced family law advocates will push to make child support obligations as clear and as effortless as possible. At a minimum, this allows the parents to “manage their expectations” and allow them to know precisely when child support payments will end.

Hiring experienced family law attorneys is all the more important because, in some cases, there are several kinds and varieties of child support. In your final divorce decree Order, the Maryland/D.C. divorce court judge might have Ordered one or more categories of child support to continue beyond the child’s age of majority. Common examples include:

  • Medical care and/or health insurance costs
  • Educational and college expenses
  • Transportation and travel costs
  • Sports and other types of extracurricular activities

Note that Maryland and D.C. divorce courts have some flexibility to extend child support obligations beyond the age of majority. But, often, the parents have agreed to extend those obligations, and the court includes those agreements in the final divorce decree Order.

On the question of automatic termination of child support obligations, most couples agree to include such language in the final divorce decree Order. It is easier for the couple, which means that neither parent has to file papers with the Maryland/D.C. divorce court and avoids either parent having to attend court again. Typically, such auto-termination language will be included even if one parent objects. Auto-termination is also “good” for the court system since it eliminates the need for the parents to file papers and return to court. Also, the divorce courts are fully aware that, where needed, one parent can always file papers to modify the final divorce decree if there has been a significant change in circumstances.

Maryland And D.C. Family Law Attorneys

Contact the seasoned and experienced Maryland and D.C. family law lawyers at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl for more information. We have the skills and expertise you need. We have proven experience with family law for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Schedule a consultation today or call us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We have offices in Columbia, MD, and Washington, DC.

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