You may have been ordered by a family court to make monthly child support payments. As the payor of child support, you are allowed to request a modification to the order. You may also request to completely terminate child support, however this is extremely difficult and requires significant, legal and factual grounds for termination. The court understands that circumstances change, but ending child support takes an extreme change in your life.
First of all, if you want to end child support, do it the legal way. Don’t just stop paying for child support as there are serious consequences to not paying these. This webpage will cover the following topics on ending child support:
- When is Child Support Supposed to End?
- Modifying a Child Support Order
- Procedure for Ending Child Support
- What if I’m Still Paying Child Support for My Child Over 18?
- Does Termination of Child Support Affect Arrears?
- Ending Child Support Because You’re Not the Father
- Should You Call a Child Support Lawyer?
When is Child Support Supposed to End?
In California, the age of majority is 18. Usually, a court-ordered child support ends when the child turns this age and is graduated from high school. Below are general rules that usually end child support, but not mandatory for the court to enforce:
Age of Majority – As mentioned, the age of majority in California is 18. The California court expects the parents to support the minor child, so naturally the child support would end once they legally become an adult.
Emancipation – The Emancipation of Minors Law defines an “emancipated minor” if he/she is under age 18 and is:
- Joins the military
- Received a judicial declaration of emancipation Bonnie P. v. Superior Court
Terminating Parental Custody – If the court gives a judgment terminating the parental rights, that parent is no longer obligated to pay child custody. The terminating of parental rights also means that the parent no longer has custody or visitation rights to the child.
It is under the California court’s discretion to decide how long child support should be paid. Although they generally follow the guideline in the California Family Law Code, they can order child support past the age of majority for the child if the child is disabled or still in school.
Procedure for Ending Child Support
You have to file a request with the California family court to end child support. Even though the law states that child support usually only ends when the child turns 18, if emancipated or you no longer have parental rights, you’ll still have to file the documents to make sure the payments are legally stopped. This must be done through the court, even if both parents agree to stop child support. You should contact a family lawyer or the appropriate California court family law facilitator to help you with this process. You’ll have to attend a court hearing after filing a motion, as only the court can terminate a child support order.
Can I be Ordered to Pay Child Support for my Child Over 18?
The court can decide that you should still be paying for child support, even if the child is over 18. Some reasons that the judge may order continued support are when the adult child:
- is disabled
- is owed duty of support
- is still in high school, full-time
- or when the adult child’s parents agree to continue child support until a certain age over age 18
Does Termination of Child Support Affect Arrears?
The past due payments owed are called child support arrears. With the termination of child support, regardless of state emancipation laws, you will still have to pay the arrears you owe. In re Marriage of Hamer. Even if the child is over 18 or has been emancipated, you’ll still have to pay. It’s not paying support for an adult child, you’re paying the custodial parent back for the expenses owed for caring for the child when he/she was a minor.
California law also allows for 10% accrued interest per year on child support arrears. You’ll want to pay the child support on time, every month to avoid having to pay more than you already do.
Ending Child Support Because You’re Not the Father
Unfortunately, there are times when a father finds out that he is not the biological father of a child, even after years of supporting him/her. You might have been ordered to pay your child’s mother. For the sake of the child’s best interest, you probably won’t be able to get that money back and you will most likely still be obligated to continue paying the child support until the child turns 18.
Once a person has been determined to the legal parent of a child, it is often too late to challenge the paternity. There is room for you to try to end child support, but it is an extremely complicated process. You should contact a family lawyer if you decide to proceed. If you’ve been falsely accused of being the father, learn more about paternity fraud here.
Modifying a Child Support Order
It’s not guaranteed that you can terminate child support, however modifying the child support should be considered first. The complete termination of child support should be the last resort. When your circumstances change and you’re not able to continue making the ordered child support payments, it will need to be proved to the court’s satisfaction. You can to provide evidence that the change in your life is significant enough to need a reduction in the amount you’re paying or for it to be ended.
Should You Call a Child Support Lawyer?
If you believe that you have reasonable and factual cause for ending child support, you should talk to a child support lawyer. He or she will be able to advise you on your next steps and if there is even a possibility for you to end or modify your payments. If you can’t afford the payments, you should try negotiating with the custodial parent or the court for lower payments.
Terminating child support before it’s time should be the last resort. If you’re looking to file the documents to legally end child support payments when he or she turns 18, working with a lawyer is also a good idea to lessen the complication of the process. Get an over-the-phone consultation with our experienced family lawyer today.