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How to Terminate Child Support in California

Termination of Child Support

If you have been ordered to pay child support by a court or under a child support agreement, you must make the payments regularly as per the terms of the order or agreement. You can ask the court to modify the child support if there is a significant change in the circumstances to warrant a change. Although very difficult, it is possible to completely terminate child support in California. To succeed, you must provide valid legal and factual grounds for termination.

Circumstances change, and after you divorce you may find you need a change in the child support arrangement. If you’re the paying parent, you might want to lower your support obligation because you’re temporarily out of work or you find yourself facing an ongoing extra expense like a chronic illness or caring for a parent. If you’re receiving support, an increase in your spouse’s income or in your expenses might justify an increase in support.

Either way, try to resolve it with your ex-spouse without resorting to the courts. Don’t just stop paying and hope everything will work out—you’ll just get further behind, and a debt related to child support is a debt you have forever. If talking it out yourselves doesn’t work, go back to your mediator, collaborative lawyer, or counselor, if you had any of those kinds of help during your divorce. If you do come to a meeting of the minds, write down whatever you agree to. If you’re the payer and your spouse tells you over the phone that it’s okay to miss a few payments, don’t rely on that. If your spouse has a change of heart, you could be looking at a court order to make the missed payments later. Get it in writing. If you can’t work something out with your ex, you can go to court and ask for a modification. You’re required to show a change of circumstances; simply taking on new voluntary expenses, like a luxury car, doesn’t count. Nor does leaving your job voluntarily, even if it’s to take a job that is more meaningful to you but pays less. You need to show that something beyond your control is interfering with your ability to support your children at the same level you have been providing.

Modify a Child Support Order

Only the court that passed the child support order can terminate or modify the order. To modify a child support order, there must be a significant change in the circumstances to warrant a change. Generally a child support obligation will generally terminate when the child attains majority or is emancipated through court order or marriage. Child support may continue even after the child reaches the age of 18 if the child is still in high school. In such cases, the child support obligation will continue till the child reaches the age of 19. If the child is a special needs child, the obligation will not be terminated even after the child attains majority.

If you want to terminate the child custody order, contact the family law facilitator of the court that passed the order. The facilitator will advise you on how to go about the process.

If the custodial parent has no objection, things will be much easier for you. However the consent of the custodial parent does not necessarily mean that the court will terminate the order. But having the consent will only make things easier. The court can refuse to terminate the order if it feels that termination is not in the child’s best interest.

You should file an application in the court requesting the court to terminate the order. The family law facilitator will inform you what you need to file along with this application. You must serve a copy of the application to the custodial spouse. During the hearing, you must convince the court of the need to terminate the child support order by providing necessary evidence in support of your case. Seek the assistance of an experienced child support attorney.

You must continue to make the child support payments until the court permits you to stop. Just because you have filed an application for termination of child support, it does not mean that you can stop paying.

Incapacitated Adult Child

If the child is an incapacitated child, the obligation of the parents to maintain the child will not be affected by the age of the child. Both parents will have equal responsibility when the child cannot earn a living because of the incapacity.

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