End of Child Support

My daughter, for whom I have been paying child support for many years, turns 18 in the middle of the month (a few months from now). She never formally graduated secondary school. Rather, she left high school early, attended community college, secured her GED, and is presently enrolled in a four-year degree program at a local university.

As directed by my “Permanent Order on Custody and Support,” on the first of each month I pay my child support by check to the “NC Child Support Centralized Collections” office. My case is a non-IV-D case, and Child Support Enforcement (CSE) is not involved. I am 100% current on my child support. WRT to the impending end of my child support obligation, I have a few questions I hope an attorney will answer.

  1. For the final child support payment, must I pay the full amount, or may I make a pro-rated payment based on the number of days in the month before my daughter turns 18? The court order is silent on this point.

  2. NCGS 50-13.4© describes the conditions under which child support terminates. Given that my daughter never formally “graduated” from high school, do I need to return to court on a “Motion to Terminate Child Support” (or something similar) and try to convince the judge to end my child support obligation? The court order does not specify a date on which my child support obligation ends.

  3. If I do need to return to court on a “Motion to Terminate Child Support,” what is the earliest date I may file this motion?

Some the threads in this forum indicate that an obligor parent must continue paying child support until formally relieved of that obligation by the court. A North Carolina court cannot order payment of child support past age 18 unless one of more “special circumstances” applies. These circumstances are physical/mental disability of the child, agreement between the parties to provide post-majority support, the obligor parent is in arrears, and involvement/registration of a “foreign” (e.g. out-of-state) child support order. None of these circumstances applies in my case.

A number of years ago, a 2-3 month backlog was typical in Wake County Family Court. This 2-3 months is the delay between the time a motion is filed and the time of the actual hearing on the motion. (I’m not sure what the present backlog is.) I cannot believe that, simply due to a backlog in the courts, an obligor parent is required to pay child support for the period between the time a child turns 18 and the “nunc pro tunc” date of the court order formally ending the child support obligation. Absent the “special circumstances” described above, North Carolina courts lose jurisdiction over child support (and child custody) when the child turns 18, so there is no way a judge could order payment of child support for the period in question. And if this post-18 child support is mistakenly paid, how is the obligor parent supposed to recover the money? Initiate another lawsuit, go to Small Claims Court, or ask (beg?) the judge for an order directing the party receiving the unwarranted child support to return it? I’d be interested to hear what an attorney has to say about this.

Thank you very much.

If you are paying child support by check, you can stop paying the month after your daughter turns 18. You cannot pro-rate the last month. Support only lasts after 18 if the child is enrolled in secondary school. Since your daughter is not still in school, the provisions for ongoing support are not valid.

Social services realized my husband had over paid at the end of his support period and sent him a refund check. We were very surprised. Good luck.