How do I stop child support payments to my child?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I have a seventeen year-old daughter who will be eighteen in a few months. She has already graduated from high school. I want to legally terminate child support payments. Am I allowed to do this, and if so, what steps do I need to take? I live in the State of Texas.”

Child support payments overview

The state has a vested interest in ensuring parents care for their children financially, socially, and physically. With this in mind, if couples divorce or they are not married and not living together, it’s likely that the noncustodial parent will be required to make monthly child support payments to the custodial parent.

How much will they have to pay? Texas has established child support guideline which requires the following payments for child support:

  • One child – 20% of the noncustodial parent’s net income
  • Two children – 25% of net income
  • Three children – 30% of net income
  • Four children – 35% of net income
  • Five or more children- 40% of net income

How long will I have to make child support payments?

Texas child support laws requires parents to pay child support for their child until the child reaches 18 years of age or until they graduate from high school (or whichever occurs later).

Now, you didn’t specify the terms of your divorce, but some parents may have created their own child support orders which extended child support payments until a child graduates from college. If you cannot remember the terms of your agreement you will need to review the court order.

Assuming you did not have any special provisions in your child support court order, however, given the details you described above, you should be able to legally terminate child support for your daughter after her 18th birthday.

Note: Although this does not apply to your particular case, there are some additional times when child support may be terminated earlier than 18 years of age or must be extended beyond 18 years of age.

Reasons child support payments must be continued or can be prematurely terminated:

  • Child become emancipated

There are specific reasons that will allow the state to recognize a minor child as an adult. These reasons are categorized under the general term of “emancipation.” For example, if a child gets married, joins the military, or petitions the court for emancipation, the court may allow child support payments to be terminated.

  • Child becomes disabled

On the other hand, some parents will be required to continue paying child support payments if their children become disabled and are unable to care for themselves. Under this condition, courts will review the needs of the child before terminating child support payments.

Steps to terminate child support payments

Now, you ask how you can stop child support payments. You will need to contact the Domestic Relations Office, or DRO at the family court 45 days before the date your child support obligation can end. Your case will be reviewed, and the receiving parent has 15 days to challenge the termination of benefits. If the request is approved, child support will be terminated.

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