New York has finally passed a law to extend child support for the care of adult children with developmental disabilities until 26. In doing so, New York joined 40 other states in recognizing the basic reality that for children with certain special needs, the responsibility of their parents to care and provide for their day-to-day well-being continues well beyond 21, which is currently the legal age of emancipation.
Under the law, child support shall continue to be paid to the parent with whom the child is living until age 26 if the Child is:
- developmentally disabled as supported by a diagnosis and accompanying report;
- residing with the parent; and
- principally dependent on the parent for his or her care.
An additional factor to consider is whether the financial responsibility for the child has been unreasonably placed on one parent. Under the law, developmental disabilities include, but are not limited to, those attributed to cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Prader-Willi syndrome, and autism. The disability must have originated before the age of 22, continue indefinitely and substantially handicap a person’s ability to function normally in society.
The law is not limited to children whose parents are just beginning to separate or divorce. It will apply, as well, to adult children whose parents have already ended their relationship through separation or divorce.
The passage of this law is a monumental step forward in easing the financial burden on custodial parents of children with special needs as it authorizes courts to award support beyond the age of 21.
At the Vacca Family Law Group, we have been fortunate to help many divorcing clients over the years use non-adversarial approaches such as mediation and the collaborative divorce process to find solutions specifically tailored to the unique needs of the special needs children. However, we’re grateful that the law in New York has caught up with the times and will provide our clients with guidelines as they approach these complex discussions.
If you are, or believe you will soon be, the custodial parent of an adult child with developmental disabilities, don’t hesitate to reach out to us to discuss how we can help you put a child support plan in place to meet the needs of your child.