David Letterman recently ended his long-running residence at the Late Show on CBS, which he had been hosting since 1993. In that time, he hosted more than 4,000 episodes of the Late Show, not including his time on NBC before this as host of Late Night.
Seeing Dave retire reminds me of the continued service to his fans over these past twenty-plus years. As a family law attorney, it also reminds me of the end of long-running child support obligations paid by non-custodial parents for the support of their children. While not as amusing as Dave’s tenure on the show, child support can be viewed as a long-running obligation of a parent to support their children just as Dave supported his fans for all these years.
When child support is instituted, it typically lasts until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. So, if a child turns 18 but is still working towards their diploma, child support continues until the month after they graduate. At this point, it is usually necessary for a paying parent to file a petition to terminate the order withholding child support from their income.
There can be instances where child support will last past 18 years old, such as in the case of an adult disabled child. For a child to be eligible for this indefinite type of support, they must have a disability known to have existed before turning 18, require personal care and supervision due to their disability, and be incapable of self-support. Other instances where child support can go beyond 18 are when parents agree to pay expenses beyond high school such as college expenses. However, just because parents agree to this does not mean it will be enforceable should one parent decide not to pay in the future.
David Letterman certainly did not intend to serve his fans forever, as he is now taking time off to tend to himself and his family. Similar to this, a parent paying support does not intend to have to pay support for their child forever. In most cases, it will eventually be time for the child to support themselves and for the paying parent to end their long-running service to their child in the form of financial support.