The court can make orders for support, maintenance, and education for children between ages 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, they must look at:
- your child’s living situation, like why your child lives with the Recipient, and when and how much time they live with the Recipient.
- why your child is mainly dependent on the Recipient;
- your child’s academic situation, like their progress in school, or if they are part-time or full-time;
- all kinds of resources the parents may have, like a bedroom for the child or the ability to help with schoolwork; and
- each parent’s contribution to post-secondary education costs for the child or other children in the family.
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 they make 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.
See the Child Support Guidelines, page 13, for more information about child support for children 18 to 23.
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).