Divorce Solutions

Question #38

My husband has two children from a previous marriage who is now 18 and 20 years old (We live in NY). About ten years ago, they went to child support, and he was ordered to pay 25% of his gross amount of earnings. Since then, he has been paying faithfully to his ex-wife and has never missed a payment (he pays directly to her-not through the court). Since then, they never went back to court. We now have a young son, age 6 yrs old, and I attend school full time and do not work. My husband and I are having a hard time with bills, etc. He barely can take care of our six-year-old, because a big chunk goes to his ex-wife. He wants me to complete my degree and, at the same time, support his kids from his ex-wife and us. My question is: How long does he have to pay child support in New York. His ex-wife claims that she spoke to a lawyer, and he said as long as her kids are still in college, he has to pay, meaning that if his kids are 25…so on…he still has a responsibility. I don’t think this is fair. New York State Law claims that at the age of 18 you are an adult, and at 21, you are legally allowed to drink. I assume that at age 21,there is no longer a requirement to pay child support…it should be called “ADULT SUPPORT.” My question is, what is the Legal Age? Is it true what my ex claims?

The question of how long one has to provide child support should be addressed explicitly in the parties’ Separation Agreement. If it is not, see if the Judgment of Divorce discusses the matter. Usually, parties agree to support a child who is attending college full time up till the age of 22 or until graduation, whichever occurs first. It does not usually continue until age 25 unless there are extenuating circumstances such as health or psychological problems of the child, which necessitate support for a more extended period.

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions