Duty to Support Children

Duty to Support Children

Children playing outside

Usually your biological parents must support you from the time you are born until you turn 18.  If you were adopted, your adoptive parents have the same legal duty. Your parents have to provide you with suitable clothing, food, shelter, education, medical care and other necessities according to what they can afford. This does not mean that you are entitled to designer clothing or private schooling.

However, if you have money that can pay for school and other stuff that costs more than your parents can afford, a court could decide that your money can be used to pay for these things.  This is very unusual, but could happen if, for example, you are a well-paid child actor, or your grandparents leave a large sum of money to you.

In Alaska, a parent has to support children until they turn eighteen unless a child dies or is emancipated.  But if you are 18 years old, unmarried, still living with a parent or guardian as a dependent, and still in high school or a technical or vocational school, a court can order your parent to continue paying support.

In Alaska, the courts have said a parent is not legally required to pay for college.  An exception is if the child’s father and mother have a written agreement (a contract between the two of them) promising to pay for a child’s college or education after high school.

Your parents must support you whether or not they live together, and whether or not they are

married.  Even if both of your parents are in jail or not working, the court has decided that parents who don’t have primary custody have to pay at least $50 per month for your care.

You have a right to be financially supported by both of your parents.  Even if one of your parents chooses to leave the family, you are still entitled to child support from that parent.  A court can order that parent to pay money to your other parent for your care.

As long as you live in Alaska, the parent you are living with has the right to get child support from the other parent, no matter where he or she lives.  Wherever your other parent lives, he or she must pay support.  The courts can enforce the support obligation.

If you are in the custody of OCS, both of your parents will be ordered to pay child support during the time you are living somewhere other than with your parents.  OCS will collect your permanent fund dividend for you and will hold it for you until you are released from OCS custody.

You can call the Family Law Self-Help Center for free information about child support if you do not have an attorney.  Call (907) 264-0851 or (866) 279-0851 Monday – Thursday from 7:30 am – 6 pm or visit the Family Law Self-Help Center website for forms and information.