When Does Child Support End in NC?

Written by Jonathan Breeden

June 22, 2023

Child support is a critical aspect of family law that provides financial assistance to children whose parents have separated or divorced. It is a legal obligation, typically enforced until the child reaches the age of majority and graduates from high school or becomes emancipated. However, the specifics of when child support ends can vary.

If you’re struggling to make ends meet and the court orders you to pay child support, you might wonder how long you’re required to make payments. Sometimes, you may be eligible to modify or terminate support payments to regain financial stability and prevent the court or Child Support Services (CSS) from garnishing your assets.

What Happens if You Fail to Make Support Payments?

Child support could put a heavy strain on your finances. If you continually fail to make payments, you could face penalties or serve time in jail. The court and CSS could also use many methods to collect your payments, including wage garnishment, which significantly limits your monthly earnings.

Other methods for collecting child support payments include taking money from your workers’ comp, social security, or veteran’s benefits. If you’re unemployed, you could have money taken from your unemployment benefits, or CSS might claim real and personal property.

CSS might even go so far as to intercept your state and federal tax returns to satisfy the demands of a child support order.

Does Child Support End When the Child Turns 18?

Child support payments usually end once your child turns 18 since the law views them as part of the majority. Typically, your child support obligation is terminated automatically without going to court. However, there’s a chance you might have to file a Motion and Notice of Hearing for Modification of Child Support Order and attend a court hearing.

Can the Court Terminate Child Support?

You aren’t always required to make support payments until your child’s 18th birthday. The following instances may make you eligible to terminate child support before your child turns 18:

  • A paternity test reveals you are not related to the child
  • Your ex agrees to end support payments
  • The child gets married
  • The child joins the military
  • The court grants the child emancipation
  • The child drops out of school and is not longer making progress toward a high school diploma

Child Support After Your Child Turns 18

Just because your child turns 18 doesn’t always mean you’re off the hook for child support.

North Carolina law states that you must pay child support until your child graduates high school. So, if your child is 18 and still enrolled, you must make support payments until they graduate, stop attending, or turn 20.

The court might also require you to continue making payments after your child turns 18 if you and the child’s other parent agree to support them while in college. In that case, your child support obligation ends once your child graduates college.

You should also note that you are still responsible for any outstanding child support payments after your obligation has been terminated.

How to Terminate Your Child Support Obligation

If you believe you’re eligible to terminate your child support obligation, you must file a Motion and Notice of Hearing for Modification of Child Support Order. In this document, you must state the dollar amount of your current child support order, how often that amount is paid, and that you’d like to terminate this obligation.

Once you file this motion, you must attend a court hearing and provide evidence that supports these demands. For example, you might show the court your child’s marriage certificate or proof that they dropped out of high school.

Filing a motion to terminate your child support order and defending that demand is more complex than you might think. It’s wise to recruit the help of an experienced attorney to guide you through your case and achieve a desirable outcome.

Let Us Help You End Child Support

The court and CSS will collect child support payments by any means necessary, and if you fall behind, you could face harsh consequences. An experienced family law attorney at the Breeden Law Office can review your case to see if you’re eligible to terminate your child support payments and help you file the necessary paperwork.

Contact our office at (919) 661-4970 to get started on your case today.


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