Do I have to pay child support if the child does not live with the court-ordered custodial parent?
QUESTION: In our divorce primary custody of the children was awarded to my ex. All the children, except one, are now adults and have moved out. The last minor child just turned 16. He has not lived with his mother for almost 2 years. Instead, he has moved around between his grandmother’s house and an apartment he shares with an 18-year old friend that they rent together. If this child is not living with his mother, can I be legally be relieved from paying child support to his mother now?
You have options.
1) Petition to modify the child support order to reflect the fact that the parent who was awarded physical custody of the child in fact no longer has custody of the child. Child support “follows the child,” meaning that support is paid to the person (parent or third party) in whose custody the child is, so if the ex is not taking care of this child, the ex isn’t entitled to receive the monthly base child support payments. But you cannot unilaterally declare yourself relieved of the child support obligation, you must obtain a court order.
2) Given the child’s age and manifest independence, you may want to consider petitioning to have the child legally emancipated, if he refuses to reside with either parent. Emancipation, if granted by the court, would terminate child support. It’s not easy, but it’s another option.