How to Terminate Child Support in California

By Roger Thorne J.D.

Updated June 13, 2017

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When a California judge issues a child support order, the payee must comply with the order for as long as the court requires or until it is changed. Child support payments do not last forever, and every court allows child support payers to modify the child support amount in certain situations. Terminating a child support order completely, however, barring specific circumstances, is very difficult. However, as long as you can provide sufficient legal and factual grounds to justify a termination, the court will usually grant your request.

Research California law on child support modification and termination. Only a court can terminate, change or otherwise modify a child support order. There are various reasons why a court can do this, but, generally, you can only modify a support agreement if significant changes in circumstances occur. A termination can only generally occur once the child becomes of age or becomes legally emancipated, either by court order or getting married.

Wait until the child reaches 18. Child support automatically terminates when a child turns 18. I the child is till in high school when he turns 18, child support continues until he is 19. However, courts can order continued support for special needs children even after the child turns 18.

Contact the appropriate California court family law facilitator. Each California county courthouse has a family law facilitator who can help you with your family law case and let you know what steps you must take to terminate a child support order. You should contact the facilitator in the county where the original child support order was filed, even if you have moved.

Read More: What Rights Does a Father Have to His Children If He Doesn't Pay Child Support?

Get the child's custodial parent to agree with your request. Though it's no guarantee that the court will accept your modification request, it is always easier to convince the court when both parents agree to the change. The court, however, can still refuse the request if it finds changing the support order is not in the child's best interests.

Petition the court. Only the court can terminate a child support order, so you'll have to file a request, called a petition or a motion, asking the court to end the payments. Contact the court family law facilitator and ask what you need to file this motion.

Attend the hearing. Once you file your petition with the court, the clerk assigns your case a hearing date. You must tell the judge why you want the court to terminate the support order by providing both evidence and the legal basis for your request.


Hire a lawyer. Terminating child support, especially because of a change in circumstances, can be a complicated matter. Judges have a lot of discretion in granting or denying child support modifications, so always consult a qualified attorney if you need specific legal advice about your case.