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Can I stop paying my child support without going to Court?

childflowerOften things happen that makes a parent think that they are no longer required to pay child support. A daughter joins the military. A son drops out of college. A child graduates high school and is going to college part time and working part time but still living with one parent. You, as the child support obligor (the payer of child support) think to yourself “can I stop paying child support now?” “Do I have to go to court?” The answer is “it depends.” If you are looking to  terminate your parental rights, that’s another matter entirely.  Visit this link for more information. 

If you are ordered to pay child support, or if you are ordered to receive child support, you likely have an agreement, or a Court order, with a detailed clause that is dedicated to child support. This child support clause dictates how much is to be paid, when it is to be paid, by what method it is to be paid and for how long it is to be paid. The clause is often rather detailed. So, the first step in answering this question is to read the part of your agreement that discusses child support.

There are some situations that are very clear and easy to determine. Most say that entry of the child into the military will automatically terminate child support. This type of situation is very clear. Your child either is or is not in the military. In a situation like this, depending on your agreement language, you may be able to automatically terminate child support without court intervention.

Other situations are less clear. If your agreement states that child support will terminate when the child “becomes emancipated,” you have to convince the Court that the child is emancipated. The answer to whether child support ends in this situation is in the detail of the agreement, the circumstances and the argument to the Court. In this situation, it is almost never advisable to terminate child support without seeking court order first.

The decision to file for modification of the order, and seek termination of child support, or to simply stop paying child support, is one that should be carefully reviewed with counsel. It is rare that a client is advised to simply stop paying but certainly, it does happen. Seek the advice of educated counsel to help you determine the best way to proceed in your case.

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