When Can I Stop Paying Child Support?

When Can I Stop Paying Child Support?

By cropped david wu

· Read time: 4 minutes

As a general rule, you are able to stop paying child support when the child turns 18. However there are some exceptions to that. Child support obligations can also end due to a ‘terminating event.’

A terminating event can can include (but is not limited to) the following:

  • The child dies;
  • The child is not living with either parent
  • The child becomes a ‘member of a couple’ 
  • The child is adopted by another person who assumes financial responsibility
  • The paying parent moves to a different country without a child support arrangement with the Australian government 

If the child is working full-time, or you or the other parent’s financial circumstances change this can reduce (but not remove) your child support obligations. This can be done through Services Australia.

Can I Stop Paying Child Support if my child gets married?

As stated earlier, child support may cease if the child enters a co-dependent relationship, ie part of a couple.

A member of a couple includes: 

  • If the child is legally married to another person and is living with them 
  • If the child is living with a partner on a genuine domestic basis (even if unmarried)
  • If the child is living with someone in a legally recognised relationship (e.g. de-facto) 

There are also, however, a few exceptions where child support can be extended past the age of 18. 

Children still in High School when they turn 18

If the child is still in high school when they turn 18 the receiving parent can apply for child support to be extended until the end of the child’s schooling.

This is defined by the later of:

  • The child’s last day in school,
  • The child’s final examination 

Adult Child Maintenance

There are a number of instances where you may have to pay adult child maintenance after the child turns 18. This is because the child is sometimes unable to be financially independent after adulthood. 

The court can mandate this under two circumstances: 

  • If the child undertakes tertiary education (e.g. university, TAFE)
  • If the child experiences a mental or physical disability 

However, adult child maintenance is not simply an extension of your existing child support arrangement. Instead, it accounts more specifically for the child’s financial expenses during this time. For example, they may need financial assistance to pay for their university fees. 

However, while Child Support is determined primarily for the child’s benefit, in the case of Adult Child Maintenance the court will also consider your financial situation, as well as any other children you may have to care for when mandating payments. 

Alternatively, you can also arrange to create an Adult Child Maintenence agreement with the other parent to allow for greater flexibility. 

Adult Child Maintenence orders typically end when a child graduates in the case of tertiary education but may continue indefinitely in the case of disabilities. These payments are to be made even where the child is receiving Youth Allowance or any other welfare benefits. 

Any ‘terminating event’ (such as if the child becomes a ‘member of a couple’) will remove their eligibility for Adult Child Maintenance. 

To Sum Up 

Your obligation to pay child support ends upon a ‘terminating event.’ Exceptions to this apply in the case of children finishing high school or in the case of adult child maintenance. 

Most simple enquiries about child support can be handled with a call to Services Australia. Obviously, some of these circumstances can be difficult to determine. It can be difficult to prove that a child is living with a partner on a ‘genuine domestic basis.’ It can also be tricky to figure out how much Adult Child Maintenance you will have to pay. These are legal standards employed by the court with complex definitions. 

If you are worried about your child support obligations you should speak to a family law specialist. Contact us via the contact page or the form.

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