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When Can You Stop Paying Child Support In California?

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Under California law, all parents are legally obligated to financially support their children. When two parents get a divorce or are not married, a court may order one parent to pay child support. Some parents find child support to be burdensome and wonder how long they will have to make these payments. In most cases, child support payments stop once the child has turned 18 years old. However, there are some cases that can stop payments sooner, or extend them for longer.

When to Stop Paying Child Support in California

Although most of the time, child support payments end when the child turns 18 years old, that is not always the case. When a child has turned 18 but has not yet graduated from high school, child support payments will continue until the date of the child’s graduation. If the child turns 19 before graduating from high school, this can also stop child support payments.

There are also instances that can stop child support before the child turns 18 years old. These are when the child:

  • Joins the military
  • Gets married
  • Becomes emancipated
  • Passes away

Extending Child Support Payments

Parents can also agree to extend child support payments, but they cannot stop them. This is because child support is the child’s right, and neither parent has any right to waive it. For example, if a child had special needs or went to college after high school, the parents may agree to continue child support. In this case, the agreement can be included in the final divorce decree. It is important to note that unlike many other states, California does not require child support to continue after the age of 19, even when a child has special needs. However, you can petition the court for support of an adult child with special needs upon a showing that the adult child is unable to be self-supporting due to a mental or physical disability.

On the other hand, a parent cannot go to court and waive their right to receive the support because it is for the child, not them. Parents can also agree to a set child support at an amount other than the state’s guideline, either lower or higher (what is called a non-guideline amount). The parents will be required to attest to the fact that they are aware of what support is under the state’s guideline and that they are capable of supporting the child on the amount agreed upon. But this can be tricky to get right so discuss your options with a lawyer.

Child Support is Not Only About the Money

When most people think of child support, they think of the monthly payments one parent makes to the other. These payments do make up the bulk of child support, but support also involves more than that. Child support can also include things like healthcare coverage for vision, medical, and dental treatments. Both parents are expected to contribute to these expenses equally. However, when one parent spends more time with the child, the other is usually required to pay child support to cover the additional expenses.

Our Child Support Lawyer in Campbell Can Advise on Your Case

Whether you need to ask for child support, need a modification, or need to ensure the amount you pay is fair, our Campbell child support lawyer can help. At Hepner & Pagan, LLP, our seasoned attorneys can provide the sound legal advice you need and help ensure you achieve the best outcome possible. Call us now at 408-688-9153 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more.

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