You may have questions regarding how to stop child support. There are various circumstances in which terminating child support becomes a legal option. In some cases, the paying parent may actually be making unnecessary payments, especially if they didn’t know how to stop child support. Child support payments may be stopped if:

  • The child is no longer a minor (usually 18 or 21 years of age)
  • The child has been adopted by a different person
  • A parent has terminated their parental responsibilities and rights
  • The child has been emancipated (no longer under the legal care of a parent)
  • The child has enlisted for active duty in the military

There are various other circumstances that may lead to the termination of child support. These include the certain living arrangements between the parents, and situations where the paying parent has become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make legal decisions. 

Where Do I Begin if I Wish to Stop Child Support Payments?

If you wish to stop child support payments, you should check to see if any of the eligibility requirements listed above apply to you. If they do, you may wish to start by filing a claim with a family law court. 

Before the hearings begin, you should also review the following points:

  • Court Orders: You should review any court-ordered child support documents that may be affecting you. If your payments are being made informally without a court order, it can sometimes be easier to stop child support.  In any event, make copies of any support orders, as these will likely be used in the hearings.
  • Wage Garnishment: In some cases, your employer may be garnishing your wages—that is, making automatic deductions from your paycheck and issuing the payment to a child support agency for distribution.  If this is the case, be sure to notify your employer of any terminated support orders, and supply them with a copy of the termination order
  • Criminal Charges: In some cases, criminal charges may affect a parent’s status when it comes to child support payments. Be sure to check your record to see that you don’t have any criminal charges that might affect your rights. 

Do Child Support Payments End Automatically?

Child support payments do not end automatically, so the parent making the child support payments must take additional steps in order to terminate the child support payments. The parent obligated to make child support payments must request for their child support obligation to end once the child reaches the age of majority or a minor child becomes emancipated. 

To find out if your obligation to pay child support is ending, you can contact the child support agency in your state to figure out your child support end date. Also, you can discuss with an attorney your rights and responsibilities while ending your child support payment obligations.

What Penalties Can I Face If I Wrongfully Terminate Child Support?

Failing to pay or terminating child support without a court judgment may result in a variety of penalties for the paying parent. The following are common penalties:

  • Criminal or civil warrants may be issued against you
  • Your driver’s license may be revoked or suspended
  • Liens may be placed on your real property
  • Your wages or other sources of income may be garnished
  • Government benefits or tax refunds may be denied
  • Your credit score may be lowered

Are There Any Alternatives to Canceling Child Support?

As mentioned, one option is for the court to modify the child support. A reduction in child support amounts may be appropriate in such situations. Sometimes, life events such as job loss, injury, or change in marital status may allow a parent to request for a change in the current child support payments.

When this happens, the paying parent may ask the court for a child support modification to help lower child support payment. A child support modification is a judicial order and while it does not end child support obligations completely, it can significantly reduce or increase the amount of child support a parent gives or receives.

What Does it Mean When a Child Becomes “Emancipated”?

The term emancipation refers to a court process in when a minor becomes self-supporting and no longer needs the financial support of his or her parents. A minor child may become emancipated even before the child reaches the age of 18. When a child has been emancipated, the parent who is obligated to make child support payments can make a request to the court to end the child support payments.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With How to Terminate Child Support?

Canceling child support is a major decision and generally requires the assistance of an attorney. You may wish to hire a family lawyer or a child support lawyer if you need help with any child support issues or disputes. Your lawyer can help you with your issue and can ensure that your interests, as well as those of the child, are met according to the laws in your area.