Can child support be paid directly to the child?

pay child support directly to your child

Your college aged child is now technically an adult. Can you start sending your child support payments directly to your older child? We answer this frequently asked question.


My child is 18 years old and in college full-time. Can I start to send my child support payments to an account in my child’s names rather than their parent?


Many parents feel as though if their child is away at school they are mature enough to receive their child support directly, and mature enough to manage that money appropriately. This may all be true. However, before you start sending your check to your child’s dorm mailbox, proceed with caution because the courts have varied opinions regarding this.

For example, some courts believe that the support should still go the custodial parent, because that parent still must maintain a room, food, utilities, etc. for the child when they return for the summer or the holidays. In a recent lower court opinion, the judge allowed a father to provide child support directly to his daughter, who was still living with her mother, but commuting to college. The judge found that this arrangement actually strengthened the bond they had. However, the judge did recognize that the mother still needed money to maintain the household, so only a part of the support went directly to the child.

If your current order specifies that you remit support payments to the custodial parent (which is typical language), continue to do so. You can, at the same time, consider asking the courts for a child support modification to change this language and direct payments to the child. The courts will look at the facts of your matter — are you timely in your payments, can the custodial parent maintain their household without these payments, etc. — in making their decision.

Child support for older teens can be confusing as a child of 18 is legally an adult, but if they are still receiving child support, it means they are still a dependent. Talk to a family law attorney to get an idea of what might work best in your family’s situation.

Have questions about your child support payments? Get answers to all your questions and start safeguarding your future today by scheduling a attorney consultation. Call us at 888-888-0919 to claim your appointment, or please click the button below.

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