How And When To Stop Child Support Payment?

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Following a divorce or separation, parents are legally obligated to provide financial assistance to a child or children. The obligor or non-custodial parent (the parent paying the child support) is obligated to pay the obligee or custodial parent (the parent receiving the payment) an amount determined by a court of law until the child support order is terminated. However, due to unanticipated circumstances, such as a job loss or medical emergency, the obligor may wonder how to stop child support payments. If you find yourself in this scenario, keep reading to learn how to suspend child support payments legally. This post also answers some common questions about the termination of child support payments.

When Do Child Support Payments Stop Or Terminate?

Generally, child support payments terminate once the child reaches the age of majority or becomes an adult. The age of majority may vary depending on the state laws (1) (2) (3), but is 18 years in most states. Child support payments may also be stopped when (1):

  • The child is 18 and no longer attends a high school on a full-time basis.
  • The order for child support does not require support to continue after the child turns 19.
  • The child is adopted.
  • The child joins the military on a full-time basis.
  • The child is emancipated legally. It means that the child is legally separated from the parents as they have become self-sufficient and no longer need the financial support of their parents.
  • The child is deported.
  • The obligee or obligor is a grandparent, and the status of the child or the parent has changed.
  • The obligor or the child has died.

In some cases, the obligee could also decide to stop accepting child support payments from the obligor due to the following reasons:

  • The obligee’s financial situation has improved.
  • The custodial parent understands the non-custodial parent’s financial condition and decides to stop receiving child support payments.
  • There has been a change in circumstances, such as the child moving in with the obligor or moving out of the custodial parent’s home.

How To Stop Child Support Payments?

If you wish to stop child support payments for any of the reasons listed above, you will need to notify the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) in your state.

Once the CSEA receives the notification, it will investigate to check if the reason for the termination is justifiable or if there are any arrearages (unpaid balances) that need to be paid by the obligor.

After the investigation, the CSEA sends a copy of recommendations to both the obligor and obligee. If both the parties do not object to the recommendations within 14 days, the child support termination order becomes final.

In case one or both the parties object to the recommendations, a written notice requesting an administrative hearing must be given to the CSEA. The CSEA will conduct a hearing and issue the Hearing Officer’s decision.

If you have any other reasons apart from those listed above, you will have to move a petition with the court to terminate child support payments.

You could reach out to your family attorney or the county clerk to get more clarifications about the documents required and the whole process.

During the court hearing, the court may ask you questions keeping in mind the child’s best interests. Make sure you have your valid reasons and requisite documents, such as your termination letter from your previous employer and medical receipts. Also, ensure you notify the other party about the court hearing in advance.

If the court finds your reasons satisfactory, it may terminate the child support completely. In some cases, the court might allow for a modification to the terms in the child support order and reduce the child support amount. This could happen if the circumstances that you are in are temporary.

You might think that the best option would be to get in touch with the obligee and try to reach an amicable agreement. While this could save you a lot of time and money, it might not be the best idea as child support payments are court-ordered and legally binding. Hire a lawyer or reach out to a legal aid society for help if you cannot afford a lawyer.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What happens if I owe arrearages or have overpaid child support?

The law mandates that you pay the arrearages that you owe the obligee before the child support payment is terminated. The conditions for paying the arrearages do not change even if the child support is terminated. And, if you have overpaid child support to the obligee, the CSEA can request your state’s tax department to offer you tax offsets or stop the child support payment ahead of time.

2. What happens if I do not pay child support?

Your failure to pay child support could be due to various valid reasons. However, if you are capable of paying it and do not do so, you would have to bear dire legal and financial consequences (2):

  • You could lose your driving and professional licenses.
  • Your income tax refunds could be intercepted.
  • Your salary, benefits, and bank assets could be withheld.
  • You may be denied visas and passports.
  • You may have to serve jail time.
  • You could be charged with a felony.
  • Your credit score could be affected.

3. Do child support payments end automatically?

No, it should be ended through a legal process. As mentioned earlier, you should notify the CSEA or move a petition with the court. If you have any doubts, always consult a qualified attorney or state and local child support agencies.

4. How long does the termination process take?

The process could take anywhere from two to three months but could be longer if there are objection hearings involved.

5. In what circumstances do child support payments get extended?

This depends on the state where you have filed your child support payment order. In most states, you may be required to continue supporting the child if they are still enrolled in a post-secondary institution or are mentally and physically disabled.

A divorce or separation of parents can be a highly challenging time for a child. However, the things that follow after that should be done smoothly. When and how to stop child support payments should be well discussed, so it does not affect the child. You must know that your child’s age is not the only factor determining the decisions. You must consider all the factors carefully, so the decisions are in the child’s favor. Also, you may reach out to support groups in advance to understand everything about the paperwork and court hearings.

Key Pointers

  • You may stop the child support payments when the child reaches 18 or doesn’t go to high school.
  • You may inform the state Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) about the valid reasons before stopping child support payments and stop after they verify the reasons.
  • Failing to pay the child support without valid reasons could result in financial and legal consequences such as canceling licenses and benefits.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Support Order Termination; Franklin County Child Support Enforcement Agency
2. Child Support Orders; State of Indiana
3. Child Support Services Program; Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services
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Ashley Baldwin

(Licensed Professional Counselor)
Ashley Baldwin is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) who specializes in Perinatal Health. After her Master's in Counseling, she did certifications in Perinatal Mental Health and is a Certified Addictions Counselor (CACII), with more than 13 years of counseling experience. She has been private practice since 2018.    Ashley has a passion for helping women during all of the seasons... more

sanjana lagudu

Sanjana did her graduation in Pharmacy and post graduation in management. It was during her first job, she recognized her skills in writing and began working as a freelance writer. Later, she completely moved into content writing and began working as a full-time content writer. Sanjana's articles in MomJunction cover topics related to new parenting and relationships. A fitness enthusiast... more