Recently the Massachusetts Appeals Court provided clarity as to under what situations would permit a child support order to continue past age twenty-three. In the case, Vaida v Vaida, the plaintiff (mother) appealed seeking that the defendant (father) pay Post minority child support for their twenty-three-year-old physically disabled son.
The parties had three minor children. While the parties were separated and divorce proceedings were pending, two of the minor children were injured in a car accident. As a result, Evan became a partial quadriplegic. The father was wholly responsible for the injuries that the children sustained. The mother subsequently filed a civil suit against the father. While the suit was pending, the divorce was finalized.
The question before the court on appeal was whether a person of full mental faculties could receive Post minority child support.
The court held that Post minority child support is not available to adult children who are not incapacitated persons placed under guardianship. Under the Massachusetts Probate Code, an individual is found to be an “incapacitated person” if for reasons other than advanced age or minority, has a clinically diagnosed condition that results in an inability to receive and evaluate information or make or communicate decisions to such an extent that the individual lacks the ability to meet essential requirements for physical health, safety, or self-care, even with appropriate technological assistance.
In the Vaida case, Evan only sustained a physical disability and had the ability to make informed decisions regarding his health, safety and self-care, thus a guardianship was inappropriate. Therefore, no child support could be awarded.
The Law Offices of Renee Lazar handles all aspects of family law, including guardianships of minors and adults. Contact Renee Lazar either through email or telephone 978-844-4095 to schedule a free one hour no obligation consultation to discuss your situation.