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Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny

When does child support end in Washington state?

Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney

It’s pretty apparent when child support payments begin for a child – but when do your financial obligations to your kids end? While many people will tell you that child support payments in Washington state come to an end when your kid turns 18, that assumption is not necessarily always the case. Payments could stop before that time or could be required beyond the child's 18th birthday.

Terminating and Extending Child Support Payments

There are five common ways that child support payments end in Washington State:

  • The child turns 18 years of age.
  • The child graduates from high school.
  • The child marries.
  • The child dies.
  • The child suffered from a disability but is now older than 18 and no longer considered disabled.

As you can see, certain circumstances could mean that you make child support payments well after the child turns 18 or that you could halt child support legally before that time. For example, if your child is born with a birth defect that requires additional medical disability care, you may be required to continue paying support even after he or she turns 18. On the other hand, if you child marries at 17 and begins his or her own life, you could legally stop making payments at that time.

Other Factors That Do and Do Not Affect Child Support

There are two additional ways that you may be able to reduce or eliminate child support payments. If you can show extreme financial hardship such as the sudden loss of your job or a serious illness, your payments may be reduced to a level that you still can afford. If you are willing to terminate all parental rights, you no longer may be liable to pay child support. However, realize that this means you no longer have a right to visitation or involvement in decisions like choosing schools, living situations and health care.

One myth about child support in Washington is that remarriage means you no longer have to pay support to your ex-spouse. This is not true. Even if you marry a new spouse with kids of his or her own, you must continue to pay child support until one of the five events previously discussed occurs. A minor exception is that you may be able to petition for a deviation of normal payment schedule if you must support your new spouse's children.

Questions about your child support obligations? Talk to an attorney.

Do you have a question about when your financial obligations and child support payments should or will end? The Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny can help you review and modify existing child support orders or draft a new order in lieu of your divorce. Contact us online or call us at 425-460-0550.