Arkansas Guidelines for Termination of Child Support
By Beverly Bird
Updated July 21, 2017
Everything eventually comes to an end, including child support. Laws governing the termination date of this obligation vary from state to state, but Arkansas is more payer-friendly than most. Its legislation is black-and-white, with few, if any, loopholes. You are not forced to take legal action here if you are the parent paying support and you have legally reached the cut-off point where it is no longer required of you.
Federal law states that Arkansas has jurisdiction over your child, and its laws apply to your child, if he lived here for at least six months before his parent applied to the court for child support. It doesn't matter if you live elsewhere if your child support order originates in Arkansas. All states are obligated to uphold one another's child support orders. Section 9-12-312 of Arkansas’s state code covers guidelines for the termination of child support. Support stops when your child turns 18 years of age, unless she is still in high school. In that case, the National Conference of State Legislatures indicates that your support obligation continues until she graduates or until she is 19 years old, whichever comes first. She becomes emancipated if she drops out of school. She is then legally beyond the need of financial support from her parents.
If your child is handicapped, either emotionally or physically, and he is not able to support himself because of the infirmity, it doesn’t matter how old he is, according to the website Help Yourself Divorce. As long as he isn’t capable of living on his own, Section 9-12-312 of the Arkansas Code obligates you to continue paying child support. The only other exception to the code is if you and your child's other parent entered into an agreement between you that was made into a court order. The terms of your agreement would prevail over any state law to the contrary.
The Tripcony Law Firm in Hot Springs says that child support would also terminate for any other reason that causes your child to be self-supporting or no longer in need of your support. If your child marries, if he dies or if you and his other parent marry or remarry each other, your support obligation would be terminated under Arkansas law as long as your payments are current at the time.
If you are current with your child support, you may not have to do anything to terminate your obligation, according to the Tripcony Law Firm. Arkansas’s code states that emancipation occurs by operation of the law. This means that you personally don’t have to do anything, such as file a motion, to curtail your obligation for payment. Tripcony says that if your child has graduated from high school or is no older than 18, your obligation to pay child support is automatically ended if you are current in your payments. If your employer is withholding your support from your wages, you can send him notice of this by certified mail, according to the legal website Avvo. Copy the court, your child’s other parent, and the Office of Child Support Enforcement. The only way you might need to file a motion is if your employer insists on seeing a court order before he will stop withholding.
A child is not emancipated while she is still in high school, but this should not be confused with your child attending college. The Arkansas Code does not offer any provisions for support continuing past high school. The National Conference of State Legislatures indicates that in 1985, the Arkansas court determined that parents do not have to pay child support while the child pursues a higher education.
If you have more than one child, your obligation does not end when one of them achieves emancipation. In this case, you should see an attorney to have your child support recalculated to eliminate the child who has come of age.
Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.