Yes. The court can make orders for support, maintenance, and education for children between 18 and 21, if they live with their parent and are mainly dependent on that parent for their maintenance.
The court can also make these orders for 21 and 22 year olds if they live with one of their parents. They must also be mainly dependent on that parent for their maintenance and be in school or college.1
The Child Support Guidelines say the court can make support, maintenance and education orders for children over 18. But the court does not have to order support for children over 18.
The Guidelines say that when a judge is thinking about an order for support for a child between 18 and 21, he or she must look at:
- the child's living situation
- why the child's home is still with his or her parent;
- why the child is financially dependent on the parent;
- the parent’s financial resources;
- the child's academic situation;
- the cost of the child's education and how parents divide the costs between them; and
- the availability of financial aid.
A judge can order a parent to help pay for college. If a judge decides to order a parent to pay for college, the Guidelines say the judge must consider how much the parent is paying for college when he or she makes the support order.
If your child support order does not say what happens after your child turns 18, and your child still needs support, you will have to file a new complaint. Talk to a lawyer to find out which complaint to file.
1 "The court may make appropriate orders of maintenance, support and education of any child who has attained age eighteen but who has not attained age twenty-one and who is domiciled in the home of a parent, and is principally dependent upon said parent for maintenance. The court may make appropriate orders of maintenance, support and education for any child who has attained age twenty-one but who has not attained age twenty-three, if such child is domiciled in the home of a parent, and is principally dependent upon said parent for maintenance due to the enrollment of such child in an educational program, excluding educational costs beyond an undergraduate degree." G.L. c. 208, § 28; G.L. c. 209 § 37; G.L. c. 209C § 9(a).
Produced by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp Last updated October 2013