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Learn How the Parents Can Work together to End Court Ordered Child Support in California

I am often asked questions similar to the following.

Question: How can the custodial parent and I close our child support order?

My children’s mother and I have come to an agreement regarding child support and visitation. She will be going to the DCSS (the child support dept). to stop its involvement, but it is my understanding that we need to have the court sign off on a child support stipulation, so arrears won’t build. Is there a way she and I can change the court ordered amount to 0? I will be paying our children’s expenses as necessary. We will not have a set amount and prefer to not have court involvement moving forward.

Answer:

You cannot end a child support if the custodial parent is receiving any county, state or federal assistance including SNAP, food stamps, MediCal, general relief, etc.

If the custodial parent does not receive government assistance, you  may be able to do what you desire if you follow the following steps.

Under California family law you have an obligation to take care of the financial needs of your children. You and the other parent cannot simply agree that you will not. But you can agree not to pay support if you provide information to the California family law court which satisfies the California family law judge that your children’s financial needs will be met.

You will need to submit a Stipulation to Establish or Modify Child Support on form FL-350 which is signed by both parents. Keep in mind that the right to support resides in the child, not the parents. You cannot “waive” child support, so avoid using any language of that nature. You will be choosing non-guideline support of $0.

The judge will be concerned that the child will be taken care of and will not require any government assistance.

Here is how to fill out the tricky parts of the FL-350.  The information on the first page is self-explanatory: case name, number, children’s information, etc. Don’t forget to fill out 5, 6, and 7, for the judge will want to see your income net of taxes, health insurance, and a couple of other items (NOT expenses like rent, food, credit cards, etc. The court will look to see that mother has enough to support her and child and see what income disparity there is. If you show net $20k a month and the custodial parent shows $2k a month, you’re going to need to show a lot of necessities you specifically agree to pay. In section 8 put the support amount that is presently ordered. Do not check section 9. Check section 10 and use “0” as your amount.

In section 10b on form set out your financial agreement. Include terms that the judge will find sufficient to offset any dollar amount you might otherwise be ordered to provide under the statutory guideline. I would include large ticket items you agree to pay (including health insurance elsewhere on form and specifics in 2b, school tuition, after school programs or sports). If you can include expensive items like orthodontics or private school tuition that will be good. You  may wish to add a page to the FL-350 to fully explain section 10b. Use form MC-025.

Remember that your coverage of expenses must reasonably justify your request to not pay guideline support and not pay any arrearages you and the other parent are waiving. This will be an easier sell to the judge if mother has enough income or financial resources to support herself and child regarding expenses you do not specifically identify on the form as expenses you will pay.

Close the DCSS case first. You can apply to close it at the DCSS website, then add in “Other Orders (section 12 on the form) that any arrearages in CS as of the date of signing will be abated given other financial considerations going forward.

It would probably be worth it to hire an experienced family law attorney on a limited scope to review your facts and prepare your pleadings (including the FL-191 form). This would increase the likelihood of your stipulated agreement being signed as an order by the judge and ending the child support order.

Here is the relevant law for people who like to read turgid prose.

The governing law is Section 4065 of the Family CodeSection 4065 says  that the parties to a case can agree to go below the guideline amount computed with the formula in Section 4055 if the two of them declare the following to be true:

  • They are fully informed of their rights concerning child support
  • The order is being agreed to without coercion or distress
  • The agreement is in the best interests of the children involved
  • The needs of the children will be adequately met by the stipulated amount
  • The right to support has not been assigned to the county pursuant to Section 11477 of the Welfare and Institutions Code and no public assistance application is pending.