When Does My Child Support End?
by Aaron Rooney
A fundamental part of a non-custodial parent’s relationship with their child is ensuring that child support is paid in full and on time. This bond, enforced by the state of Arkansas, works to prevent the entire financial brunt of raising a child from falling on the custodial parent.
Naturally, a non-custodial parent will want to know when their child support obligation expires and when they can transition to assisting their child voluntarily without state oversight. Family law is unique in that the law can change drastically from state to state.
There are some commonalities, but each state dictates the legalities of divorce, adoption, and child custody. In Arkansas, statutes and court precedents govern family law.
Things to Keep in Mind When Ending Child Support in Arkansas
When considering the finalization of child support in Arkansas, a non-custodial parent should keep three things in mind: When child support is legally terminated, the procedural process for officially ending child support, and how to avoid payments that the court can’t order.
All three concerns should be addressed to prevent undesirable legal outcomes.
1. When is Child Support Legally Terminated?
Child support can be legally terminated when:
- The child is adopted out
- The child’s parents remarry each other
- The child is emancipated or married
Terminating child support also considers:
- The completion of high school
- The age of the child
- Any mental or physical disability that may inhibit the child’s employment
The most well-known reason for ending child support is when a child reaches the age of 18, but that birthday may not be the end of the non-custodial parent’s court-ordered financial obligations.
Arkansas law states that support obligations continue until the child graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever comes first.
There are also a couple of issues that might delay or complicate the legal end of child support. If the child suffers from a mental or physical disability that renders them incapable of supporting themselves, parents may be obligated to support the child indefinitely.
Additionally, the statute of limitations for unpaid child support is lengthy, and the state requires all arrearage to be paid before terminating child support payments. A court may forgive arrearage in rare circumstances.
2. What Are the Procedures for Terminating Child Support?
Sometimes support can be terminated by operation of law with no further judicial or administrative process. However, the non-custodial parent is often responsible to the custodial parent, the court, or the state until the proper paperwork is complete.
Without the correct documents, a non-custodial parent with a spotless history of child support payments can unknowingly become a deadbeat parent chased by a state agency.
3. How to Avoid Unnecessary Child Support Payments?
When a parent trying to operate amicably in a divorce is uninformed of their rights, they may oblige themselves to unnecessary payments.
Adding language in a divorce decree for items like paying college tuition, providing transportation, and/or enrolling a child in the parent’s health care plan can extend financial obligations beyond what the court can mandate.
While many of these payments are something a non-custodial parent would consider without the legal constraints of a court order and agreeing to some stipulations may avoid other divorce concessions, a parent can also provide financial support simply motivated by love as opposed to a legal obligation.
The best way to establish child support properly and complete it simultaneously with legal expiration is to proactively advocate for it on the front end. Utilizing an experienced family law attorney can help ensure the most equitable possible outcome, provide a thorough understanding of support obligations, and put in place a proper end to your child support.
Call a Family Law Attorney Today
The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP has the experience to help you navigate issues you may have with family law. We are available to answer your questions. Contact us at 1-479-316-3760 to schedule a consultation.