Nobody likes paying child support. As necessary as it is, nobody likes paying it. But the courts will almost always require it when you are a non custodial parent. It is about the best interests of the child – not your former spouse.
So what happens when your child turns 18 and there is no longer a legal obligation to pay for child support?
Can you just shut if off? Is it like throwing a switch?
It is true that under the law, you are no longer obligated to pay child support when a child turns 18.
But hold the phone!
You have to do a bit more analysis of the situation, and you have to jump through a few more hoops first.
Contractual vs Statutory Obligations
It is true that you no longer have a legal obligations to pay child support under Maryland statutes. But that is not the only source of a legal obligation.
You may have contractual obligations to pay. There may be an agreement between you and the other parent to continue to pay.
Is that in your separation agreement or divorce decree? You better read it over to make sure. Or have a lawyer give it a quick read to be positive.
It is not uncommon for parties to bargain additional support payments beyond the age of 18 if the child is attending school full time, or still living at home, or not yet graduated high school. There could be any number of reasons you agreed to that way back when you got divorced.
Double check that agreement and make sure before you just stop paying.
Get Help: Notify the Court of Emancipation
The judicial system is not going to know that your son or daughter has had an 18th birthday. You have to make them aware of any change in status.
This means it’s your responsibility to notify the Court that child support payments should no longer be taken from your paycheck. You have to give them proof of your child’s “emancipation” and they will then (after a delay, of course) stop the wage lien on your paycheck.
So start the process early. Tell them that this date is coming up so they will be ready to extinguish your wage lien when the time comes.
Will I Be Reimbursed for overpayment?
I often get questions about the overpayment, and whether that money can be reimbursed.
If you overpay a bit during the delay in shutting off your wage lien, you have a problem. Technically, your ex should give you that money back.
I know that probably made some of you laugh when you read that. But that is the law. The Court isn’t going to give you a refund.
The majority of the time the Court defines that as a contribution to your child and is not inclined to return it. If the money is still within the child support agency’s system and has yet to be deposited to the other parent’s account there is a slim, but unlikely chance to have it reimbursed.
This is one more reason to contact the Courts as soon as possible.
Conclusion & Next Steps
The Courts in every county face hundreds if not thousands of legal matters each day. If you don’t inform them of your issue, it will not going to resolve itself!
Corresponding with the Court requires specific language that can often be difficult to understand without assistance. If you have questions or need advice on the best way to move forward in this process, give us a call at 301-645-4100 to schedule a consultation.
Want to know more? Discover what you need to know about divorce in Maryland. Click here to see our Free Legal Consumer Guide to divorce cases in Maryland and get answers to your questions today. Click here to read our Free Legal Consumer Guide to Child Custody. Know your options. Be informed. Protect yourself.
Need a divorce lawyer or child custody attorney? Please contact us for a consultation today if you need a Maryland divorce lawyer for your family law case.
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