New York recently expanded the child support obligation of parents of developmentally disabled adults. Prior to the new law, child support payments could end at 18 or 21. Now, a parent may petition the court to receive support until the child is 26. However, there are some limitations.
In order to qualify, the adult must be developmentally disabled as defined in the state mental hygiene law. A finding of a developmental disability must be supported by a diagnosis and accompanying report of a physician, licensed psychologist, registered professional nurse, licensed clinical social worker or a licensed master social worker under the supervision of one of these professionals. In addition, the adult must reside with the person seeking such support and must be principally dependent on such person for maintenance.
The court can order the payor parent to make support payments either to the other parent or to the trustee of an “exception trust” (also known as a special needs trust) if such direction would assist in maximizing assistance to the child.
In determining the amount of support, the court may consider whether the financial responsibility of caring for the individual was unreasonably placed on one parent from when the child turned 18 or 21 until the age of twenty-six.
With this law, New York now joins 40 other states with similar laws recognizing that parents with special needs children have a continuing need for child support.
If you are considering divorce or have a post-divorce dispute, contact me for a consultation to discuss the best approach for your family. I am a strong advocate for parents finding their own solutions to their divorce disputes including issues of child custody and support. Utilizing mediation or collaborative divorce allows parents to settle their conflicts and learn to communicate in a respectful and cooperative way that will help them when future issues arise. It also is less stressful on children.
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