How to Terminate Child Support in Arkansas
By Elizabeth Rayne, J.D.
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In Arkansas, certain events automatically end the obligation to pay child support, provided that your settlement agreement does not provide otherwise. Child support automatically terminates when the child becomes an adult, or becomes emancipated, meaning that a court finds that the child is legally an adult who can make her own decisions and support herself.
In Arkansas, certain events will automatically end the obligation to pay child support. Child support automatically ends when your child turns 18 and graduates from high school. If your child is still in high school at the age of 18, payments will continue until he turns 19. Further, you may stop paying child support if your child marries, dies or is declared emancipated by a court. A court may grant emancipation if the child is at least 17 years old, financially stable and lives separately from his parents.
If you remarry your spouse and parent of the child, you no longer have to pay support. However, as in any cases where child support is terminated, you should be aware that you are still responsible for any missed payments. Additionally, the court has the authority to extend child support payments after the child is emancipated. Although not common, a court may extend payments when a child has disabilities and is unable to take care of himself after reaching 18.
Although certain events automatically terminate child support, if your spouse has an income withholding order against you, you may have to take additional steps to stop your employer from withholding income from your paycheck. If you are up to date on your child support payments, you may stop income withholding by sending a notice of termination to the custodial parent, your employer, the Arkansas Office of Child Support Enforcement, clerk of the court, and the Arkansas Child Support Clearinghouse. The notice should be sent within 30 days of the date of termination and include your name and address, name and address of your employer, notice of impending termination of child support, date of termination, and basis for termination of income withholding. If you owe back child support, your employer may continue to withhold money from your paycheck until you have fulfilled your obligation.
If you signed a settlement agreement as part of your divorce, you should first refer to this document before assuming that your obligation to pay support has ended. Settlement agreements in Arkansas do not have to end child support once the child graduates from high school and turns 18. For example, your settlement agreement may provide that support lasts through your child's college education. As a result, you must continue to pay child support for as long as your settlement agreement provides.
If you have more than one child, your obligation to pay child support for each child may end at different times. If one of your children graduates from high school, either you, your ex-spouse or the Office of Child Support Enforcement may file a motion with the court to modify the child support order. Based on the change in circumstances, the court will likely lower the amount of support to account for the emancipated child.
- Arkansas State Legislature: 9-14-237. Expiration of child support obligation
- Arkansas State Legislature: 9-27-362. Emancipation of juveniles
- Arkansas Office of Child Support Enforcement: Policy Manual
- Supreme Court of Arkansas: Van Camp v. Van Camp
- National Conference of State Legislatures: Termination of Child Support -- Exception for Adult Children With Disabilities
Elizabeth Rayne earned her J.D. from Penn State University and has been practicing law since 2009, advising clients on issues ranging from employment law to nonprofit management. For two years, she served as a contributing editor for the "Vermont Environmental Monitor."