In California, child support can be terminated by law or by agreement of the parents. The legal justification to terminate child support may be based on the child's age, the child's completion of an educational program, a change of the family's circumstances or another event that the parents originally agreed to in their court order. Ultimately, the family court judge has the power to terminate or refuse to terminate child support.
Review Your Court Order
Read the court order that requires you to pay child support. Although California has default rules on how long a child support order should last, your court order is the final word on the subject. It may include a specific termination date.
Child support orders may last beyond a child's 18th birthday. Parents can agree to longer periods of support and parents of disabled children can be forced to support these children for the rest of their lives.
Review the Law
Review California's law regarding minors if the court order does not specify when child support payments are to end. Typically, a parent must support a child until he reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school. However, if a child is still in school at 18, support continues until the child turns 19 or graduates high school, whichever occurs first. Additionally, child support can end when a child gets married, joins the armed forces or is emancipated by law.
Contact the Local Child Support Agency
Reach out to your local child support agency if you believe that your payments should stop because of the court order's wording or California law. You may need to submit evidence of your grounds for termination, such as the child's birth certificate or school records.
Take it to Court
File a motion to the court that has jurisdiction over your case if the child support agency does not agree that payments should stop. This requires you to identify yourself, the court and the case number so the court can reference previous orders and motions in your case. In the motion, set out the legal reasons why you believe child support should be terminated, such as that the child is now living with you full time instead of the other parent.
Attend the Hearing
Go through the legal process. After the motion is filed, the court clerk assigns a date for the hearing. You must notify the other parent of the hearing. Appear on the hearing date with the evidence that shows that you should no longer be required to pay child support, such as your child's birth certificate. After reviewing the evidence and hearing testimony from you and the other parent, the judge decides whether there is a legal and factual basis to terminate the child support order. If he agrees with you, he will make a court order that terminates the support obligation.
California has family law facilitators that assist individuals who are using self-help forms and who do not have a lawyer. The family law facilitator can help determine whether you need to go to court and instruct you on the forms you need to fill out.