This post is a simple and straightforward one, but I get this question all the time: “When does my Arkansas child support stop?”

In Arkansas, a person’s child support obligation will stop “as a matter of law” (more on that in a second) when one of the following things happens:

  1.  The child turns 18 and is not enrolled in high school. (He or she has either graduated or dropped out when he or she turns 18.)
  2. The child is over 18 and graduates from high school. (Yes—even if your child goes to Harvard on a full scholarship at age 14, your child support will continue until he or she turns 18. Graduation only matters if the child is over 18.)
  3. The end of the school year after the child turns 19.
  4. The child is emancipated. (For more information on this, go here.)
  5. The child marries.
  6. The child dies.
  7. The child’s parents remarry.
  8. The child is adopted.

A few things to note: The termination of one’s child support does not magically erase past due child support (also known as “arrearages”). Also, if a Court has ordered you to pay additional child support past the normal time (like, for instance, to pay for a child’s college), then you’re on the hook.

Arkansas law says that your child support obligation will stop “as a matter of law,” but that’s a little deceiving. After one of the events listed above happens, it is the obligor’s (the person paying child support) duty to follow up. According to the Arkansas child support law, the obligor has to provide written notification to the following people:

1. The custodial parent,

2. The physical custodian (if this applies),

3. The clerk of the Court where payments are made,

4. Your employer (if your income is withheld to pay the child support), and

5. The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE).

These letters must include the following items:

1. A copy of the most recent child support order,

2. The name and age of each child that you are seeking to terminate child support, and

3. The name and age of each child whose child support has already been terminated.

So I guess the child support law should actually say that the Arkansas child support will stop “as a matter of law”—and if you send out a bunch of detailed letters that you didn’t know you had to send. True story: I recently saw a case where a father had paid child support until the child was 24 simply because he had not taken the steps to stop it. And once that money has been paid out, it is gone forever. Yikes!

If you’ve got any other questions about stopping your child support (or questions about Arkansas child support in general), please call us.