Effective immediately, New York joins 40 other states in expanding the child support obligation of parents of developmentally disabled adults. Prior to this change, child support payments ended at 21. Now, a parent can receive support until the child is 26 if the requirements of the law are met.
To qualify for extended support, the adult child must meet the following criteria:
- Have a developmental disability as defined in the New York 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.
- Reside with the person seeking such support. The adult must be living with the parent asking for the child support.
- Be principally dependent on the person seeking support for maintenance. The custodial parent must be financially supporting the adult child.
In determining the amount of support, the court will continue to use the same child support guidelines that apply in other cases. However, the court may consider whether the financial responsibility of caring for the adult was unreasonably placed on one parent from when the child turned 21 (or 18 if they lived in another state) until the age of 26. It is unclear how this will be interpreted by a court in calculating support.
Child support can be paid either to the custodial parent or to the trustee of an “exception trust” (or special needs trust) if such direction would assist in maximizing assistance to the child.
For parents engaged in child support for developmentally disabled adults and children, this law offers important recognition of the need for continuing care. If you are considering divorce or want to file a petition to extend child support, contact us for assistance in your matter.