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Can child support continue after a child turns 18?

18 seems to represent a magical age in that once one reaches it in Washington, they are officially independent and no longer reliant on the support of others. In reality, however, that is not often the case. Even when your child turns 18, there circumstances may require that they still look to you for support. If the support you have been giving them has been supplemented by child support from an ex-spouse, then you may legitimately be wondering if and how you will be able to provide it once they reach the age of majority. 

Illinois law states that child support agreements end when a child becomes legally emancipated, which happens upon reaching the age of 18. Yet according to the state's Department of Healthcare and Family Services, your ex-spouse's obligation to pay child support can be extended if your child turns 18 while still in high school. In such a case, the obligation would continue until your child graduates from high school or turns 19 (whichever comes first). 

What happens if your child then goes off to college? In such situations, the court can order that you, your child and your ex-spouse share the costs of their continuing education. Share might be a relative term in this context given the limitations your child's schooling may place on their earning potential; ultimately you and your ex-spouse may be asked to shoulder a large portion of the costs. Such financial assistance typically cannot be extended, however, beyond the completion of your child's undergraduate program. 

The other scenario in which child support might continue to ne required is if your child is physically or mentally disabled. In this case, your ex-spouse may be mandated to continue to support them either indefinitely or until they can attain some degree of self-sufficiency. 

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