Can Child Support Be Stopped If a Child Is Not Living With a Parent?

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

Can Child Support Be Stopped If a Child Is Not Living With a Parent?

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

You cannot stop paying child support without a court order changing your required payments. But if your child is spending more nights with you than with the custodial parent, you might want to seek a modification to your child support order.

Father and son holding hands walking together

To do this, you must show that your child is spending more time with you. The court reviews your evidence and might recalculate your child support or even eliminate it altogether.

Child Custody

When a divorce is finalized, a court determines which parent will receive custody of your child. Courts require that both parents provide for their children, keeping them in the same financial situation as if they were still living together. Thus, the non-custodial parent pays child support.

There are many factors courts consider when determining custody rulings and child support payments. These include how many nights a child spends with each parent. If your child will spend 25 percent of the week with you, then you will be required to pay a higher amount than if your child stays with you 50 percent of the time.

Courts also consider your child's age when ruling in a custody case. If your child is very young, courts will not ask your child for their preference on who they want to live with. However, as your child gets older and more mature, courts have the discretion to ask them to choose who they prefer to live with. There is no standard age but, generally, children nearing teenage years may be given the opportunity to give the court their preference.

Child Support Modifications

Court-ordered child support payments are not set in stone. If the court based your payments on your child spending 25 percent of the week with you, but your child ends up spending more time at your house, your payments can be adjusted.

Sometimes the custodial parent may request that you keep your child additional nights. Or you simply want to spend more time with your child. This also means you should not have to pay as much in child support.

When you encounter this situation, you need to file for a modification of child support. You can get a form from your local clerk or you seek help from an attorney to expedite the process.

To change your child support on your own, complete the form and provide specific information about why your child support payments should be reduced or eliminated. Again, if your child is spending more nights with you that is a valid reason to request a change in your payments.

It's important to remember, even if your child's other parent says it's okay for you to reduce your payments, you can't do so until you get approval from the court. Do not make changes on your own or rely on verbal agreements. All modifications should be approved by the court to legally protect both you and your child in the future. The good news is that, even if the process to petition the court takes time, the court can retroactively apply your child support payment reduction.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.