In October 2021, New York State passed a new law allowing parents of dependent adult children with mental, developmental, or physical disabilities to continue receiving child support until the child turns 26. However, this extension beyond the age of 21 isn't automatic.
As we previously reported, last year New York became the 41st state to allow child support payments to continue until age 26 for dependents with certain disabilities or special needs. It's important to clarify, though, that these payments past the 21-year-old cutoff aren't automatically guaranteed. Certain requirements have to be met:
- A parent seeking to extend child support must first bring a petition, which must be supported by a diagnosis and accompanying report of a physician, licensed psychologist, registered professional nurse, or other authorized professional.
- The developmental disability must have originated before the child became 22 years old. The disability must be continuing or one that can be expected to continue indefinitely. The disability must be a substantial handicap to the child’s ability to function normally in society.
- The petitioning parent must be the custodial parent and primary caregiver of the dependent, including the parent the dependent resides with.
The court has discretion in determining the amount of child support to be awarded. Aside from its ordinary considerations in determining child support, the court may also consider whether the financial responsibility for caring for the dependent has been unreasonably placed on one parent.
The law applies both to parents who are already separated or divorced, including modifications of existing child support orders, and to parents who are currently undergoing the process.
For any questions or assistance regarding child support for a dependent with disabilities, please contact our Family Law practice. For matters regarding estate planning, including qualifying for public programs and long-term health care and financial planning, contact our Special Needs Planning practice.