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  1. #1
    beemsg Guest

    Question [FL] Extension of child support to age 21?

    State: Florida
    Jurisdiction: 15th Judicial Circuit (Palm Beach County)

    Question:

    Is it likely that support for myself (17) and my sister (15) can be extended to the age of 21? If so, what additional procedures need to be completed?


    Case Background:

    My mother's (hereafter "mother") marriage was dissolved in 1993, with the partial agreement stipulating that mother be given full custody and receive weekly rehabilitative alimony ($200) and child support ($150) payments for my sister and I (hereafter "children"). Children are biological offspring of parents' union; there were no others.

    Alimony payments terminated in 2000. Mother filed supplemental petition for modification of child support in 2002; Court approved a settlement agreement to increase the child support from $150/wk to $250/wk after accepting correspondences between mother and father.


    Case at Hand:

    Children are currently enrolled in high school with a reasonable expectation to graduate. Additionally, I (hereafter "son") am attending a local university as a dual-enrolled student taking 18 credit hours. Son's college credits are being applied both to his high school requirements and college GPA. Son has assurance of a full scholarship at same university upon graduation from high school. Son works part-time ten (10) hours weekly, contributing $200 monthly.

    On 7/15/03 mother filed a second supplemental petition for modification of child support, requesting that health insurance and support coverage at current amount be extended to the age of twenty-one (21) for both children. A family law Financial Affidavit, Notice of Social Security Number, and Child Support Guidelines Worksheet were filed contemporaneously with the petition. Mother had previously sent letter of intent to father on 7/01/03.

    Father was served petition on 7/24/03. Father's counsel motioned for an enlargement of time to respond.

    9/4/03 - Mother and children received father's response to supplemental petition, which denies all allegations save the date of marriage annulment (this includes denial of established child support at $250/wk). Response continues with an affirmative defense that the supplemental petition:

    "[...]failed to state a cause of action inasmuch as Florida law
    expressly provides that there is no legal duty to pay child
    support in behalf of a child who has reached the age of
    eighteen (18) and who is not mentally incapacitated prior to the
    age of eighteen (18), except if the child is between the ages of
    eighteen (18) and nineteen (19) and is still in high school,
    performing in good faith with a reasonable expectation of
    graduation before the age of nineteen (19). Accordingly, there
    is no legal duty for the continuance of child support payments in
    behalf of a child until the age of twenty one (21)."

    The response's next section is a "Request for Attorney's Fees Incurred in Connection with Supplemental Petition," which pleads for an award of attorney fees based on a need and ability to pay analysis, or in the alternative on "the Court's inherent authority to sanction litigants for filing frivolous lawsuits, pursuant to Section 57.105 of the Florida Statutes, and/or under the dictates of Rosen v. Rosen."

    Finally, the response concludes with a "Verified Supplemental Counter-Petition for Declaratory Judgement or, in the Alternatve, Modification of Child Support." This pleads for a clarification of the language of the "Order Approving Settlement Agreement," which increased the support amount to $250/wk, so that it explicitly states that support for each child shall terminate individually on each child's 18th birthday or graduation from high school. It then reiterates the father's need of financial assistance to pay the counsel, and if not awarded, the payment of fees as a sanction for frivolous lawsuits.


    Commentary:

    I personally could not believe this document for a couple minutes. F.S. 743.07 (2) explicitly states the following:

    "This section shall not prohibit any court of competent
    jurisdiction from requiring support for a dependent person
    beyond the age of 18 years when such dependency is because
    of a mental or physical incapacity which began prior to such
    person reaching majority or if the person is dependent in fact,
    is between the ages of 18 and 19, and is still in high school,
    performing in good faith with a reasonable expectation of
    graduation before the age of 19."

    I am certainly dependent in my present and foreseeable circumstances (living at home, making $200/month, no car, etc.). I believe the next step is to serve an "Answer to Counterpetition."


    Conclusion:

    If anyone has advice, suggestions, etc., they would be greatly appreciated. Everything thus far has been pro se, but my mother did not take the time to research effectively. It thus falls to me to try to salvage the case.


    Thanks,
    -beemsg
    Last edited by beemsg; 09-06-2003 at 02:30 PM.
  2. #2
    theother Guest

    Re: [FL] Extension of child support to age 21?

    Originally posted by beemsg
    .....when such dependency is because
    of a mental or physical incapacity.....


    What is your mental or physical incapacity?
  3. #3
    theother Guest
    I forgot to say that the other part of that reference only addresses someone that is under the age of 19, is still in highschool, and is a dependent.

    Which part of that reference do you think that you fall under?
  4. #4
    beemsg Guest
    Oh no!

    I was misinterpreting the statute to mean that a court could extend support past majority to any age if they did so while the child was 18-19, in high school, etc.

    I read the Florida paragraph of [URL=http://www.divorcenet.com/wa/wa-art02.html]this page[/URL], which doesn't quote the statute in its entirety. I only read the real statute after reading that paragragh, so I already had in mind what I thought it meant.

    Thanks for helping me clarify, theother.
  5. #5
    theother Guest
    Well, I guess that article says it is possible. Florida law doesn't expressly forbid the extension of CS according to the author. I don't know how they are measuring "dependency", but it says that simply attending college doesn't qualify. Have you looked up the cases that the article cites? Perhaps you could try to find a low-cost attorney in your area to help you.

    Do you have any kind of relationship with your father? Is there any chance that he would help you even if he isn't ordered to do so? Personally, I don't think that divorced parents should be held liable for something that married parents aren't, but I would think that most people would feel a moral obligation to help with their children's education especially if they are involved in their lives. He's probably mad that he is being taken to court right now, but have you tried talking to him?

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