When Can You Stop Paying, Modify, or Cancel Child Support?
If you pay child support, you may be interested in learning when you are off the hook for these payments. This article looks at the various circumstances in which child support payments can be stopped. It also looks at the requirements for child support modification.
You live in Utah, and you have been paying child support for your children for a couple of years. You may accept the responsibility you have toward your children, but you may also be interested in knowing when your responsibility is likely to end.
Legally, your court-mandated child support payments end when each child turns eighteen, or when each child graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. Your children may continue to look to you for financial support even past this point. However, once they turn eighteen, you decide – and not the court – how much and when you pay.
The law in Utah
A child turning eighteen or graduating are not the only circumstances in which a parent may stop paying child support. Your child getting married, joining the United States Armed Forces, or becoming emancipated are all legally recognized as points at which your responsibility for child support may cease.
There are exceptions to these rules. If your child has special needs and is unable to make a living as a result, each parent is able to petition the court to extend child support past the child’s eighteenth birthday.
If the Office of Recovery Services (ORS) takes your child support payments directly out of your paycheck, such action should stop automatically when you legally no longer owe child support. Still, it is a good idea to be proactive with these matters, and you can send the ORS an email with a read receipt request. This read receipt request would inform the ORS of when your child turns eighteen or graduates from high school and would ask the ORS to terminate their income withholdings. The email can serve as your record of intimation should the ORS fail to halt the withholdings. Alternatively, if you pay child support directly to your former spouse, you can send your former spouse an email of the termination and maintain a copy of this communication for your record.
To formally terminate support payments, it is also a good idea to file an affidavit for termination of child support with the court. An experienced family law attorney from Kristopher K. Greenwood & Associates can help you with this.
Can you stop paying child support any earlier?
Simply ceasing to make child support payments does not release you from liability. When you begin to fall behind, the payments will begin to add up. Past due child support may be enforced for a number of years, even after the child turns eighteen.
Under certain complex circumstances, you may be able to stop child support before the legally mandated landmarks occur. However, one of the following must take place:
- You relinquish your parental rights; or
- You are able to convince the court that you have valid reasons to ask for a cancellation of child support. You will typically need a family law attorney to assist you with this.
You may apply to modify your child support payments
In some circumstances, you may want to continue paying child support, but you may find that you are unable to afford these payments in the amount that is currently ordered. Rather than try to cancel the payments altogether, you may apply for a modification with the court. An experienced family law attorney from Kristopher K. Greenwood & Associates can help you navigate the requirements to begin this process. While the court tends to be understanding about these circumstances, it is important to acknowledge that there are some circumstances in which such requests for modification may be denied. Some of these circumstances could include the youngest child turning eighteen in less than a year or one of the parents being either unlocatable or in prison.
Questions relating to support payments can become complicated. The best way to navigate the law with confidence is to do so with the expertise of a trained family law attorney by your side. Please call 801-475-8800 for a free phone consultation today.