If one parent (the husband) has to pay child support for a certain amount, but the child moves out of the mother's home, can the husband legally stop paying child support? If so does he have to go to court? and what are the likely hood that the court will grant him reduced or no child support obligations?

Child is adult but still in college. The husband is suppose to pay until college graduation. Child is being supported by significant other and they work part time job.

  • 1
    Exactly what do you mean by moving out? Are they an adult who will support themselves? Or a 14-year old going to live with their grandparents because mom can’t take care of them anymore?
    – AsheraH
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 5:14
  • 3
    I don't know enough to offer an answer but it seems to me that "pay until college graduation" is fairly definitive. And AFAIK any variation to a court order has to be made by the court (but a mutual agreement between the parents may be permitted depending on the jurisdiction). As for the "likely hood" (sic) that a court grant a reduction, this is probably off-topic here unless someone can find relevant caselaw
    – user35069
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 7:12
  • 1
    More likely that moving out of the mother's home is more expensive and child support will go up. (Slightly kidding, but that's what a judge could decide if you go to court. You can't really say "I want to pay less", you can only say "I think I'm not paying the right amount, and the judge can adjust what they think is the right amount).
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 10:54
  • I presume the 'pay until college graduation' has other contingencies, since not everyone graduates from college.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 13:15

3 Answers 3


This is a matter of state law, so the answer is not precisely the same in all jurisdictions.

Many states have laws that prohibit child support orders from being modified retroactively. In those states, they can only be modified back to the date of the motion seeking to modify them.

In the case of an adult child in college, where an agreement ends child support at a given date, simply not living in the home while in college or on vacations during college is not likely to be a valid basis for discontinuing child support or modifying it, because this was a circumstance that was foreseeable when the order was entered.

The fact that a child has some support from others or from a part-time job does not necessarily discontinue the obligation.


I presume that the court ordered post-secondary child support, under a law similar to RCW 26.19.090. The basically says that even though the child has reached the age of majority, the child remains a dependent of the parents. In which case, that obligation is imposed on both parents – and it does not matter where the child is living. What does matter is whether they continue to be in that dependent situation. The order is based on

Age of the child; the child's needs; the expectations of the parties for their children when the parents were together; the child's prospects, desires, aptitudes, abilities or disabilities; the nature of the postsecondary education sought; and the parents' level of education, standard of living, and current and future resources. Also to be considered are the amount and type of support that the child would have been afforded if the parents had stayed together

The child is required to

enroll in an accredited academic or vocational school, must be actively pursuing a course of study commensurate with the child's vocational goals, and must be in good academic standing

and payments are automatically suspended (not terminated) when these conditions are not met. Also, they necessarily terminate at age 23, not "when the child graduates". Other states have different laws, but "moving out" is not a violation of the order or law, unless it specifically is in the particular case.

  • Often payments are not suspended automatically, only upon a court order.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 23:25

If the husband goes to court to determine if they have to continue paying child support, the court will first consider if there are other children in the household who deserve support before considering the needs of the college student. Courts generally operate under the theory that all children should have “full support” from both their parents until they graduate from high school, and the younger children at home should not suffer at the expense of the college student who has already received “full support” from both parents.

According to a 2012 Appellate decision, just because a child is attending college, which counts as a change in circumstances, there is no presumption that the amount of child support is reduced for the college student.

I’m not sure which state you live in, but you should consult with a child support modification attorney to determine if you can adjust your child support agreement now that your child is in college: https://www.lcwlaw.net/practice-areas/child-support/

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