New York Extends Child Support For Adult Children with Special Needs to Age 26
Until recently child support for all children in New York State ended at age 21 whether or not a
child could be self-supporting. Forty other states allowed a custodial parent to pursue child support for adult children with disabilities up to age 26. New York has now joined those other states.
In October 2021, the New York Domestic Relations Law was amended to allow parents with custody or other caregivers of children with developmental disabilities to ask the Court to order that child support payments be made until age 26.
The amendment to the law requires that the child be diagnosed with a developmental disability that originated before age 22 and that is expected to continue indefinitely. The Court must also find that the condition will substantially handicap the child’s ability to function in society.
The Court has discretion to make an award based on certain standards in the new law and prior child support orders can be modified to reflect a new award. Payments can be made directly to a parent or care giver, or to the trustee of an “exception trust”, typically a special needs trust for the child.
This change in the Domestic Relations Law will have substantial benefits for parents of children with developmental disabilities who now receive or will receive child support payments. As parents who have adult children with disabilities know only too well, once a child graduates from school at age 21, the world of adult services is very different and not in a good way. Quality adult programs for those with developmental disabilities are difficult to find, often oversubscribed and rarely last for a full day. Parents of these adult children are left to fend for themselves and the quality of life for the child can suffer. The additional support that the new law provides will be most welcome and sorely needed. It will assist parents with the difficult transition to adult services.