Law Office of Jeffrey D. Stearman, Esq.

When Can I Legally Stop Paying Child Support?

In California, most child support orders dictate that child support will continue “until the child reaches the age of majority, dies, becomes emancipated or until further order of court. Pursuant to Family Code section 3901, subdivision (a), support shall continue beyond the age of majority in the event the child is a full-time high school student and not self supporting upon reaching the age of majority, until he/she either reaches the age of 19 or graduates from high school, whichever first occurs”

Once a court makes an order for payment of child support, that order can be enforced. However, in certain cases, a supporting party can legally stop paying child support as ordered. The main circumstances under which child support can stop being paid are as follows:


As shown in Family Code Section 3901, child support terminates when the child turns 18 years old, as they are then considered an adult under California law. However, there is an exception. If a child is still a full-time high school student, still living at home, child support then continues until they turn 19 or graduate from high school, whichever occurs first.


If you have the unfortunate case where you have a child that passes away, your obligation to continue to pay child support also ends.


If your child gets married or enters into a legal domestic partnership, under California law they are then considered an adult, even if under the age of 18. You can then stop paying child support as your duty to support them has ended.


Emancipation is a legal process in California whereby a child can petition the court to be free from their parental control. Of course, the minor must qualify to be able to do so. If the child is at least 14 years old; can prove they have the legal means to earn their own money and be self-supporting; and no longer desire to live with their parents, the court may grant the emancipation. The court however, would need to make a finding that in doing so, it is in the best interest of the child. If the court does so, then your duty to continue to support that child ends and you can stop paying child support.


If your parental rights end, usually by way of legal adoption, your obligation to support that minor child also terminates and you can legally stop paying any child support for that child. Of course, a supporting party simply cannot give up their custodial rights as a parent in order to avoid paying child support. This would require the consent of the other parent.


If your child qualifies and joins the U.S. military once they reach the age of 17, your duty to pay child support then terminates and therefore you can stop paying support.

If you find yourself in the situation of needing quality legal representation in Orange County, California (Newport Beach; Huntington Beach; Seal Beach; Costa Mesa; Westminster; Garden Grove; or any other city in Orange County) for a divorce, legal separation, child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support or any other family law matter, contact Attorney Jeffrey D. Stearman at the Law Office of Jeffrey D. Stearman in Huntington Beach, CA. for a FREE initial telephonic consultation. I can be reached at (714) 871-7778.