In a perfect world, you could simply stop writing checks for child support when your child emancipates and reaches the age of majority. Alaska law makes it almost this easy. Depending on whether you're supporting more than one child and whether your ex-spouse objects, you might be able to terminate your support obligation through written notification to the state's Child Support Services Division, or you may not have to do anything at all.
Age of Majority
Alaska's age of majority is 18. If your daughter turns 18 after graduating from high school and you're paying support directly to your spouse and not through state services, you can usually simply stop. If your daughter turns 18 but doesn't finish school until the following June, Alaska allows your ex-spouse to ask the court to modify the support terms of your divorce decree to extend your obligation until the date of her graduation. If your daughter turns 19 before she finishes high school, your support obligation ends on her birthday, not when she graduates. Alaska's statutes provide for such extensions, so the court will almost certainly grant your ex's request. The court will issue a modified order to extend your support until the appropriate time.
If your child goes on to attend college, this has no impact on your child support obligation in Alaska. At the latest, support ends when your child turns 19 or graduates high school, whichever happens first, and then only if your ex requests it or your decree already provides for such an extension. Case law in Alaska has repeatedly indicated that courts do not have the right to order divorced parents to pay for or contribute to college costs.
A few exceptions exist to Alaska's statutory provisions regarding the age of majority and termination of child support. If your child is handicapped or disabled, the court can and usually will order ongoing support. If your daughter marries before her 18th birthday, your support obligation ends sooner than expected because this event emancipates her as well.
Alaska law requires that non-custodial parents pay child support through income withholding, although you can waive this rule if your ex-spouse agrees to a different arrangement. Your employer must deduct your child support from your pay and forward it to the Child Support Services Division. The CSSD then sends the payment to your ex. If this is the way you're paying support, you'll obviously have to take steps to stop the income withholding when your obligation ends. You can usually accomplish this by contacting the CSSD, although you may have to provide documentation to prove that your daughter has emancipated. If you've waived income withholding, you would not have to notify CSSD unless your ex has enrolled with the state to enforce the child support terms of your decree.
There are two types of child support orders in Alaska: administrative and those issued by the court. If you're paying support according to the terms of your divorce decree, it's court-ordered. If this is the case, and you and your ex have more than one child, you can't simply stop paying support when your daughter emancipates because you still owe support for the others. You'll have to go back to court to ask a judge to modify and recalculate your support obligation so it accommodates the remaining number of children. Administrative orders are issued by the CSSD and aren't typical in divorce situations. However, if your child support order is administrative, the CSSD can modify it for you.
References & Resources
- National Conference of State Legislatures: Termination of Support – Age of Majority
- Washington State Department of Social and Health Services: States Who Do Not Allow Postsecondary Support (PDF)
- Alaska Child Support Services Division: Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support Enforcement Services
- State of Alaska Department of Revenue Child Support Services Division: Information About Child Support Services (PDF)
- Justia.com: Child Support Information
- DADSDivorce.com: Child Support Termination Procedures By State
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