When can you legally stop paying child support?

Updated February 21, 2017

Child support is a common requirement. Absent fathers or mothers must pay support to provide for children as if the parent had remained in the home. Child support does end, however.

Child Support

Child support is intended to replace the income that would have benefited the child if the absent parent were still in the home. Each state has guidelines to determine child support amounts. In many cases, child support is dictated by the terms of a divorce. In other instances, the parents appear before a judge to establish or modify support.

Exceptions to Support

Child support generally continues until the child reaches "the age of majority," which is the "chronological moment when children legally assume majority control over their persons and their actions and decisions," as the Mama's Health website notes. While this age varies by state, in most states it is 18 years old. Child support sometimes ends if a step-parent or other adult adopts the child or if the courts terminate parental rights. Although visitation and child support are considered separate issues, in some instances courts have terminated child support if the parent was not afforded access to the children.


The consequences of failing to pay child support can be costly. Not only can wages and income tax refunds be garnished, but driver's licenses can be lost, liens may be placed on property and contempt of court can be filed. You lose your passport as well, and you may face FBI investigation, criminal charges and jail.

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About the Author

Karie Fay earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology with a minor in law from the University of Arkansas at Monticello. After growing up in construction and with more than 30 years in the field, she believes a girl can swing a hammer with the best of them. She enjoys "green" or innovative solutions and unusual construction.