Q: Custodial parent will not terminate CS even though child lives with us. Do we have options?
Our daughter, 17, moved in with us 4 months ago. We have paid for everything bc she refuses to help. She took away her car and phone which we have had to replace. We are paying large sums in CS and in arrears. She won’t pay for anything and refuses to terminate. And has never wanted our help (as in wouldn’t allow us)to pay for medical.. etc. and Now wants us to pay for things that aren’t even for her. Also, It was an unhealthy, (mentally and emotionally) situation for my daughter when at her Moms. We would like to get full custody and terminate CS. Is this possible and if so how can we do this? And how would it work? Thanks!!
A: To clarify, I am going to assume that the "we" you are referring to is the child's father and maybe his now significant other? While I prefer Mom and Dad to be able to recognize that there is an issue that needs to be resolved and be able to work out the best way to resolve it by agreement, it may not be possible.
There are a couple issues that would dictate the best way to handle this: If the child is close to 18 and will not be attending college full time, the support provisions terminate on her 18th birthday unless your parenting plan says otherwise or there is some exception under the law that applies to your situation. That is statutory and no further action is needed. However, if child support is being withheld via a wage withholding then that is an issue to deal with. And depending on the practices of the court in your area, your judge may not want to terminate the child support order or withholding until they know for sure that the child will not enroll in college by waiting until October 1st since that is the statutory deadline for enrollment. This really depends on your facts, the cooperation of your x-spouse (you may not have that here), and the judge. The custody provisions of the parenting plan don't apply once she turns 18 either. If she just turned 17, then you may want to call an attorney to see what can be done for the next year.
You also mentioned arrears. This is tricky too. A court order cannot retroactively modify a child support order. It can only modify a court order for child support going forward. This means that if you are in need of a modification you should file it ASAP (preferably after you get the advice of a child support lawyer). But depending on if you have had your daughter for 30 consecutive nights, you may be able to get periods of child support abated. Depending on how much in arrears you are, it may be beneficial to pay an attorney to try and help you grapple with this.
This situation tends to be so fact specific and you really need to get the advice a Missouri child support attorney. If you are in St. Louis County or a nearby surrounding county, feel free to call my office at 314-725-4000. Good luck!
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