By Marina Shifrin  Fri Aug 20, 2010

When is it Time To (Financially) Cut Off Your Child?

Figuring out the right time to tell your child, “You’re on your own,” can be a difficult task. Years ago, kids were cut off when they turned 16 and left to face the real world themselves. In the 21st century, it’s a little more difficult: Many things are much more expensive and members of the “Boomerang Generation” often don’t know how to deal with it. With the expectation of a college degree combined with a poor job market it may be tougher to cut your child off.

What Are Your Options?

Every family comes from a different financial and cultural background, and the decision to send out your child on their own financially is ultimately up to you. Here are some points to consider if you are looking for guidance:

Old-School Parenting

Some parents take the same approach their parents did and cut the cord when their child is considered an adult. According to the U.S. Department of State, a child is legally an adult at the age of 18 in the United States. At age 18, individuals can:

  • Register to vote
  • Join the Military
  • Get a Credit Card without restrictions
  • Get Married

Basically, an 18-year-old can do everything 21-year-old can do besides gamble and drink.

School Support

Many parents dream of seeing their children graduate college. Having a college degree makes an individual more eligible for many occupations, but the expense of college can often be too much for an 18-year-old to handle on his or her own. The tricky part is figuring out at which point after college you should stop shelling out the bucks.

Once your child graduates it is perfectly acceptable to cut them off. College graduates are able to work a full time job because they do not have to attend classes any longer. Because of the difficulty of finding a job and paying off  debt parents many choose to continue helping their children after school. If you have the financial stability to continue helping your child after school you can, but a better option could be allowing them to live at home free of charge while they look for work. This way you can still show your child you support them while encouraging them to start looking for a job that make them less dependent.

Child Support

Child Support is used mainly in divorce cases or when parents are separated and there is a need for financial aid in raising the child. Every state and every case has different rules and regulations for making payments. In many cases, child support ends when a child turns 18 — but if the child is still in school then the parent paying child support is still responsible. In some states, child support continues through the age of 23 for individuals. It looks like even the state and federal governments can’t agree on a set age at which to cut off children.

Once again, there is no set date to send your child to fend for themselves. Each family operates differently. It is, however, important to consider different factors. For example, if you support your child for too long they may not learn to support themselves. You may also hinder yourself by not saving as much as you should for retirement. You want to make mutually beneficial decisions that will assist your child and help you. Make sure you are providing your child with the tools that will bring them success and independence.

 

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