When Can I Stop Paying Child Support in Massachusetts?

Child support can be expensive. As a result, you may be wondering when you can stop making payments. Read on to learn more about when you can stop paying child support in Massachusetts.

How is Child Support Determined?

When making a decision about the amount and frequency of child support payments, the court will take the following factors into consideration:

  • Number of children
  • Cost of childcare
  • Child-related expenses
  • Sources of incomes
  • Custody arrangement
  • Cost of health insurance for the child
  • Earning capacity of each party

If any of these factors change, child support payments may need to be modified.

What is the age of emancipation?

It is important to know that you cannot stop paying child support until it is declared by the court. Support can generally end when the child reaches the age of emancipation. However, there is no fixed age of emancipation in the state of Masschuasetts. Instead,  emancipation is determined through a variety of different factors. A child may be eligible for emancipation if he or she:

  • Gets married
  • Enters the military
  • Lives independently, depending on their level of autonomy
  • Turns 18 and is financially stable
  • Gets pregnant or has a child

The other hand, the following conditions can spark an extension of child support and a delay of emancipation:

  • The child receives a higher education, such as college or trade school, and cannot yet support themselves
  • The child has special needs

The same way a child or the child’s other parent can request an extension, you can request a modification. For example, if you have recently become unemployed, you can request that the court lower the amount and/or frequency of your payments. However, you will have to prove that your financial situation has changed substantially and for the forseeable future.

What if I stop paying child support?

You must continue paying court-ordered child support until the court declares otherwise. Failing to pay child support can lead to serious legal trouble. In Massachusetts, the court may enforce child support payments with:

  • Being held in contempt
  • Additional fines
  • Wage garnishments
  • Wage assignments
  • Levies against his or her bank accounts
  • Suspension of his or her licenses

If you have any questions or concerns about child support payments in Massachusetts, contact our firm to speak with an experienced and dedicated family law attorney.

Contact our experienced Bristol County firm

If you need help through a contested divorce or with any other family law matter, contact The Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C. for a consultation today.