Duration of Child Support
Child support is intended for the benefit of the child, not the parents. The purpose is to provide financial support for the care and maintenance of a child until he or she reaches the age of majority. There are, however, certain exceptions to this depending on the child’s needs and whether the parties are able to reach a different agreement regarding the duration of child support.
Under Georgia law, one’s child support obligation typically terminates upon the child reaching the age of majority, dying, marrying, or becoming emancipated, whichever first occurs. O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(e). The law does also provide that a court may order parties to provide financial assistance to a child who has reached the age of majority but who is enrolled in and attending a secondary school, provided that such financial assistance shall not be required after a child attains 20 years of age. Id.
Parties may also agree upon a longer duration of child support. For example, parties may find it necessary to ensure they will share in the costs of higher education for the child and agree to have the child support obligation continue throughout the child’s college education. This is referred to a post-majority support. This type of support must be agreed upon as the court does not have the authority to order either party to support a child once he or she reaches the age of majority. The court does, however, have the power to enforce any agreement reached regarding post-majority support and can hold a party in contempt for failing to follow the terms of the agreement. Therefore, it is important to discuss this issue with an experienced family law attorney before reaching any such agreement.