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How to Reduce or Even Stop Child Support Payments when Necessary

When a court hands a child support order to a non-custodial parent, he or she may feel like the financial burden will last a lifetime. However, with a court order and the help of an experienced family law attorney, there are ways to reduce or even stop one's child support commitment when it becomes financially necessary to do so.

When Child Support Usually Stops

In Illinois, under normal circumstances, a parent's commit to pay child support ends by the date stipulated in the child support order. If a parent receives an order with no end date, he or she is obligated to pay child support until the court orders otherwise.

The age of emancipation is typically 18, unless the child is married, enlists in the armed services or has moved out of the custodial parent's home before their eighteenth birthday. Typically, courts use age 18 as a cut-off for child support payments. However, parents may be responsible for paying child support beyond the age of 18 if their child is still in high school. In this case, non-custodial parents must pay child support until the child graduates or turns 19, whichever comes first.

How to Change the End Date on a Child Support Order

Altering a child support payment in any way requires a court order. Never decide to skip a payment without a judge's say-so, since doing so can get a parent into trouble. If a child has been emancipated early, the non-custodial parent should appear in court to get his or her child support payments terminated.

It is important to note that even though required child support payments end at age 18, a judge may award discretionary support if the child is attending college or has a medical condition or disability. In this case, a judge can award payments to the custodial spouse, the child him or herself or the school the child attends. Often, discretionary payments are less than what was required when the child was younger.

How to Reduce Child Support Payments

Child support payments may be reduced for a couple of reasons. If a non-custodial parent is making payments for two dependent children and then one of them reaches the age of 18, the non-custodial parent may ask the court to reduce his or her payment. However, non-custodial parents should not change what they pay on their own without a court order.

In other cases, child support payments become unaffordable due to changes in the non-custodial parent's income. It is possible to petition the court for a reduction in payments if one's income has dropped since the original order was issued. An experienced Illinois family law attorney can help non-custodial parents gather proof that their current financial situation makes their child support payments too burdensome.

Child support orders are not set in stone, and it is possible to have payments reduced or in some cases eliminated. If you are interested in modifying your child support order, contact an experienced family law attorney who can help you build your case.

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