Here are important Massachusetts cases on child support when the child is over the age of 18:
Barnes v. Devlin, 84 Mass. App. Ct. 159 (2013)
A father could not unilaterally stop paying child support under an agreed-upon separation agreement. His “proper recourse, as the judge stated, would have been to initiate appropriate modification proceedings, as opposed to unilaterally stopping payments.”
Cabot v. Cabot, 55 Mass. App. Ct. 756 (2002).
In limited circumstances, the Court has the authority to make an award of college expenses retroactive.
Doe v. Roe, 23 Mass. App. Ct. 590 (1987)
Child born out of wedlock had same rights to support after age 18 from adjudicated father as children of divorced parents would have from their parents.
Eccleston v. Bankosky, 438 Mass. 428 (2003)
While G.L. c. 208, § 28 does not authorize a Probate and Family Court judge to order a divorced father to pay support after his child’s eighteenth birthday to a third party appointed as his child’s guardian, the judge does have authority under G.L. c. 215, § 6 to determine whether the father should be required to support his daughter financially beyond her eighteenth birthday.
Kirwood v. Kirwood, 27 Mass.App.Ct. 1156 (1989)
This case sets out the test for determining whether or not to maintain, increase or cancel support after the age of majority by using specified criteria to decide whether or not the individual is “principally dependent” upon the parent with whom s/he resides.
Larson v. Larson, 28 Mass.App.Ct. 338 (Larson I) (1990); 30 Mass.App.Ct. 418 (Larson II) (1991)
In the first proceeding, court “declined to consider the question whether the child was emancipated as a matter of law upon attaining the age of eighteen, where the case had been tried on the theory that the matter would be resolved under the test for dependency set forth in G.L. c.208 sec. 28.” In the second, the court retained jurisdiction over child support matters beyond the age of twenty-one.
LeBrecque v. Parsons, 74 Mass. App. Ct. 766 (2009).
The court found that “the child’s status as an unmarried mother does not render her emancipated as matter of law.”
Mansur v. Vinal, Probate and Family Court, Essex Division (89D-2178), March 26, 2001, affirmed 59 Mass.App.Ct. 1101 (2003), further appellate review denied 440 Mass. 1106 (2003).
Where a father was obligated to support his son while the son engaged in a “full-time continuous course of study,” but the son failed, withdrew or received incomplete grades in at least eight courses, the support obligation ended at the date of the son’s originally anticipated graduation date.
McCarthy v. McCarthy, 36 Mass.App.Ct. 490 (1994). The court held that the Probate Court exceeded their powers when they modified a marital separation agreement. The modification increased the amount of child support the husband was paying to include college expenses. The original separation agreement did not address the issue of college expenses of the children. It survived the divorce judgment, and therefore more than a material change of circumstances would have to be established to alter the terms of the original agreement.
Sullivan v. Smith, 90 Mass. App. Ct. 743 (2016).
Appeals court upheld probate court order awarding child support to former guardian who filed a “Complaint in Equity for child support of unemancipated child previously under guardianship”, who was still living with her, principally dependent on her and planning to attend college.
Tatar v. Schuker, 70 Mass. Appt. Ct. 436 (2009).
Under the child support law, a child is not automatically emancipated at 18. A judge does has the discretion to enter an order for child support that terminates when the child reaches 18, if, for example, it is unlikely that the child will continue to be dependent or live with the custodial parent when the child reaches age 18.
Vaida v. Vaida, 86 Mass. App. Ct. 601 (2014).
The Court can order child support after emancipation but only when an adult child is incapacitated and is under a guardianship.
Should you be seeking child support or looking to terminate your child support obligation, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.