School Attendance Requirement for Child Support

In most cases, child support is payable until a child reaches 18 years of age or, if the child is in high school, until graduation.* Thus, for many parents, child support continues until May or June when their 18-year-olds graduate from high school. But there’s another requirement that does not often come into play: A child must not only be enrolled in school, but the child must meet the school attendance requirement for child support to continue past age 18.

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School Attendance Requirement

For child support to continue after age 18, the child must not only be enrolled in school but must meet the minimum attendance requirement of the school, whether it is a public or private school. The student must comply with:

(A) the minimum attendance requirements of Subchapter C, Chapter 25, Education Code; or
(B) the minimum attendance requirements imposed by the school in which the child is enrolled, if the child is enrolled in a private secondary school.

Texas Family Code section 154.002(a)(2).

Failure to Attend School

In Roberts v. Swain, No. 01-13-00801-CV (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] May 13, 2014) (mem. op.), a father claimed his child support obligation ended in October 2012 when his daughter turned 18. He argued that his daughter “had fifteen unexcused absences for the first semester of the school year and a total of thirty-six unexcused absences for the entire school year.” The daughter attended a public school. The father argued that only five unexcused absences are allowed in public schools.

Not Enough Proof

In support of his position, the father offered the daughter’s report cards into evidence. The report cards did show thirty-six absences, but they did not show that any of them were unexcused. Further, the report card indicated that the daughter received school credit and grades for both semesters. The father’s child support obligation remained in effect until May of 2013 because the father did not prove that his daughter’s absences were unexcused.

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* According to Texas Family Code section 154.002(a)(1), the child must be enrolled:

(A) under Chapter 25, Education Code, in an accredited secondary school in a program leading toward a high school diploma;

(B) under Section 130.008, Education Code, in courses for joint high school and junior college credit; or

(C) on a full–time basis in a private secondary school in a program leading toward a high school diploma . . . .

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