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When do you Stop Paying Child Maintenance?

written by: Valerie Tandoi•edited by: Doreen Martel•updated: 4/7/2011

When do you stop paying child maintenance? This is an important question asked by both the newly divorced and people who have children who are about to become legal adults.

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    What is Child Maintenance?

    If you are unsure what child maintenance is, child maintenance is the United Kingdom's version of American child support. If you are living in the United Kingdom and you get divorced, the non-custodial parent will need to pay child maintenance to contribute towards the child's daily expenses.

    Similar to the American child support system, the custodial parent will receive child support payments when the non-custodial parent is paid. Depending on the circumstances, custodial parents may receive a smaller check each week or a larger check once a month.

    It is important to realize that in the United Kingdom, you have two options for setting up child maintenance payments. One option is to work out your own agreement with your ex-spouse and then put that agreement in writing. If you use this option, the Child Support Agency will not help you if one or both of you attempts to break the agreement. If you do not believe that you can come up with this agreement on your own, you can work with the Child Support Agency to create a binding document.

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    When Can the Non-Custodial Parent Stop Paying?

    Pay your child maintenance on time. 

    If you are the non-custodial parent, you are likely wondering when do you stop paying child maintenance? If you have chosen to have an agreement worked out by the Child Support Agency, you will stop making payments when your child turns 16 if they are no longer a full-time student. If your child is still a full-time student, you will stop making payments when your child is 19 years of age.

    If you have created a private agreement, you and your ex-spouse can choose to put a different age for when you should stop paying. Some couples may agree on the age of 15 while other couples may agree on the age of 21. Although the system can not enforce your private arrangement as is, you can contact the Child Support Agency and attempt to turn your arrangement into a legally binding document.

    In addition to child maintenance payments, many non-custodial parents will choose to do extras to directly benefit their children such as buying them a new pair of sneakers or giving them extra cash to take a school trip. Since this is between you and your child directly you can continue to do these things for as long as you'd like.

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    American Child Support

    If you are an American new to the world of being divorced, you may also be questioning when do you stop paying child maintenance which is better known as child support in the states. In America, it is a lot less cut and dry as rules and regulations differ on a state by state basis.

    California is an example of a state where child support is required to be paid by a non-custodial parent until a child is 18. The exception is if your 18 year old is still in high school, then you would have to continue paying until the child is 19.

    New Jersey falls on a much different end of the spectrum and has no official cut off date because the state does not believe that all 18 year olds fall into the same category. If you are the non-custodial parent, you may file to stop paying when your child turns 18. If your child is not enrolled in college, you will likely win as your child should be able to get a full-time job. However, if your child is taking a full load of fifteen college credits per semester, the judge may tell you that your child is not ready to be independent and to refile to stop payment when your child turns 21.

    Some states, such as Texas, keep things simple. When a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, the child support simply ends. If you are a non-custodial parent living in a state like Texas, you are still welcome to give your child private checks for living expenses if you would like your child to focus on college, you are simply no longer required to have your wages garnished and given to your ex-spouse.

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    Reference

    1. What is Child Maintenance: Child Maintenance Options- http://www.cmoptions.org/en/maintenance/
    2. California: Department of Child Services- http://www.childsup.ca.gov/NoncustodialParent/FAQs/tabid/113/Default.aspx
    3. Child Support Laws by State: Texas- http://www.child-support-laws-state-by-state.com/texas-child-support.html

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