Children are entitled to receive financial support from both parents until they reach the age of majority. As such, child support payments are often mandated by the courts, even in instances when neither parent has actually filed for child support. Occasionally, though, there are scenarios when after deciding to file for child support, the parent who initially requested it later wishes to stop receiving child support payments.
This can actually get complicated. Before we look at how to stop child support altogether, let's explore some of the circumstances in which a parent may want to stop receiving or even completely refuse incoming child support payments.
Why Stop Child Support Payments
- The parents get back together: If the parents got back together, there would be no reason for one parent to continue to receive child support payments. In that case, the parent who initiated the child support order should return to family court and explain his or her desire to stop receiving child support payments.
- The recipient's financial situation has changed: Say you get a new job or come into an inheritance. It may be hard to imagine, but you could (theoretically) opt to stop child support payments. It's worth mentioning, though, that you would be under no obligation to voluntarily put an end to court-ordered child support. However, your ex could (and likely would) file for a child support modification. And once the courts reviewed your current financial situation, they could choose to reduce or stop child support payments.
- Circumstances have changed for the parent paying child support: On the flip side, say things change for your ex and you want to voluntarily give up child support to ease his or her financial burden. While unusual, this does happen. All you would need to do is file for a child support modification with the courts. They would then review all of your financial data again and, where appropriate, issue a change.
How to Stop Child Support Payments
As long as you have a lawful reason for stopping child support payments, and you want to initiate the process, you can:
- Visit your nearest family court (or the one that issued your current child support order)
- Speak to the county clerk at the courthouse and request the appropriate paperwork to cease child support payments
- Fill out that paperwork and file with the courthouse
Keep in mind that the judge or another court-appointed representative may attempt to convince you not to stop child support payments. This is because to the court, it is in the best interests of your child to continue to receive as much financial support as possible. Therefore, you should be prepared to defend your reasons for wishing to stop child support payments.
Alternatives to Stopping Child Support Payments
Formally putting an end to child support payments is not your only option. You could simply return the payments to your ex while he or she is experiencing financial difficulty.
When Stopping Child Support Payments is Not an Option
Generally speaking, parents receiving government aid do not have the option to electively stop child support payments.
Non-custodial parents who are no longer responsible for child support payments should maintain adequate records from the custodial parent regarding payments made toward the child's upbringing.
By maintaining receipts, a non-custodial parent can ensure that he or she won't be in a position to owe back child support payments later.
For more information, refer to additional resources about child support payments or speak with a qualified attorney in your state.
Edited by Jennifer Wolf.