If you were ordered by a family law court judge to pay child support, or through a child support agreement, you have to make regular payments described under the terms. If there has been a significant change in circumstances, you could ask the court to modify the child support payments. Additionally, while it's not easy, it's possible to completely terminate child support in California.
However, you will be required to show valid legal and factual grounds for the termination. It's not uncommon for circumstances to change to a point where you realize you need to modify the child support arrangement. If you're the non-custodial parent, you might need to lower the child support payments because you lost your job.
If you need to modify child support, the first step would be to make an attempt to resolve the issue with your ex-spouse without going to the family law court. You should never just stop making payments as you will get so far behind that you can't ever catch up.
If you can't reach a mutual agreement, then consider going to a mediator or counselor for assistance. If all efforts fail to work it out with your ex-spouse, then you will have to go to the family law court and request a child support modification.
You will be required to show there has been a change in circumstances. It should be noted that buying a new car or voluntarily quitting your job does not qualify for a change in circumstances. You have to show that something happened beyond your control that directly impacts your financial ability to support your children at the same level you already providing.
Child support is ordered in cases of divorce or where the two parents are not married and are living apart to provide for the child's needs financially. The amounts that parents are ordered to pay are carefully calculated based on their income, how many children they have, what their previous standard of living was, and other factors.
There may, of course, come a time when the child support paying parent wants to terminate or modify their child support orders. By working with a knowledgeable Los Angeles family law attorney to terminate your child support, you may be more successful in your endeavors.
To give readers a better understanding of terminating child support, our California divorce attorneys are providing a review below.
How to Terminate or Modify Child Support Orders
You can only modify a child support order if substantial changes in circumstances occur. Only a court can terminate, change or otherwise modify a California child support order. In general, termination can only happen once the child becomes of age or becomes legally emancipated, either by court order or getting married.
Again, the family law court is the only entity allowed to terminate or modify child support orders. Unless the court has ordered a change to your order, you are still legally obligated to keep paying child support per that order.
The requirements can vary depending on the court that issued your child support order. Typically, to terminate or modify your child support arrangement, you will need to complete paperwork and submit it to the court for approval.
You will have file a request for a hearing (Form-FL 300) and ask the court to end child support payments. After you file, the clerk will assign a court date. You may also be required to attend court for a hearing. If your circumstances have changed, you will need to provide proof.
When the Child Turns 18
Under California Family Code 4053, your child will remain on your child support until they are 18 years of age. If your child turns 18 and they are still attending high school full time and lives with one parent, it will continue until they are 19 years of age or until they graduate, whichever comes first.
Although if your child has special needs, the court can order you to pay child support past these ages and will apply equally to both parents to the extent of their ability.
Thus, one option is to wait until the child reaches 18 when child support automatically terminates.
You can contact the family law court facilitator who can help you with your case and let you know the steps you have to take to terminate a child support order. You should contact the facilitator in court where the original child support order was filed.
Allowing Your Child to be Adopted by a Step Parent
If your spouse is remarried, and you agree to let their new spouse adopt your child, therefore giving up your parental rights, you no longer have an obligation to pay child support.
The adopting parent is now partially responsible for providing for their needs. It is strongly encouraged that you speak with an experienced Los Angeles family law lawyer before making such an impactful decision.
If your child is successful with legal emancipation in the state of California, you are no longer obligated to pay child support. A child can become emancipated if they:
- get married
- join the military
- by judicial declaration – go to court and have the judge declare them emancipated
As a parent, you can also choose to voluntarily continue making child support payments even after any of the aforenoted circumstances occur.
No laws or stipulations are preventing you from doing so. Some parents elect to continue paying child support until their child is 21, has a steady paying job, or has graduated from college.
Valid Reasons to Request Modification
If none of these circumstances apply to you and your child, you can still apply for a child support modification. It is important to note that you must have a valid reason for requesting a modification. The court will generally consider your request under the following circumstances:
- One or both parents' income has increased or decreased
- One parent becomes unemployed
- One parent goes to jail or is institutionalized against their will for more than 90 days
- One parent has a new child from another relationship, which changes their financial situation
- Parenting time changes
- A new need for health care, regular child care, or new educational requirements for the child
- Any factors used in calculating child support change such as taxes, the cost of insurance or mandatory union dues
Get Help Terminating Child Support Orders with a Family Law Attorney
If you believe you should no longer be paying child support or need to change the amount you pay, schedule a consultation with an experienced family law lawyer in Los Angeles.
You will want to ensure that your reasons are legitimate before asking the court to consider your requests. If they are, you will want professional help from our family law attorneys to complete paperwork, present your requests to the court, and represent you in a possible hearing.
Furman & Zavatsky are Los Angeles family law and divorce lawyers located at 15821 Ventura Blvd #690 Encino, CA 91436. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (818) 528-3471.