Child support considerations when your ‘child’ is now a teenager
Every parent knows that children seem to change and grow every day. They could go from learning to use a spoon to going out on dates in the blink of an eye.
One of the many adjustments parents must make amid these changes is modifying a child support order.
What needs to change?
Child support orders are in place to ensure both parents contribute to a child’s well-being. And those factors can change over time, as a child may need more or less financial support.
Whether a court reviews an existing order or parents do it independently, there may be reasons to change an order once a child nears high school graduation.
Financial considerations that parents may want to discuss include:
- Paying for college
- Buying or helping a teen buy a car
- Medical care for a teenager, including mental and reproductive health support
- Cost of cellphones, computers and other devices they may need
- Travel expenses
- Helping improve a child’s financial literacy
- Payment for elite schools or activities
Parents may also want to discuss whether and how much a teen should work and whether they should have a credit card.
It is also crucial for parents to talk about what will happen when a child turns 18 or graduates high school. In most cases, this event marks the end of formal child support obligations. But it does not necessarily mean a child no longer needs financial support.
Further, if a teen is disabled, talking about options like conservatorships and ongoing financial contributions can be necessary.
Making these conversations productive
Talking about money can be difficult for parents, no matter how long they have been divorced or separated. And it is not unusual for them to have different views on what a teenager needs versus what a teen wants.
To make these conversations more straightforward and less combative, parents may want to consult legal or financial professionals who have had these discussions many times before. With this type of support, parents can work toward a plan that helps them – and their teenagers – move ahead to the next chapter.