During animal cell division, the final separation of daughter cells requires ESCRT-III (endosomal sorting complex required for transport III), the core membrane scission machinery. Carlton et al. (see the Perspective by Petronczki and Uhlmann) report that ESCRT-III modulates abscission timing through one of its subunits, CHMP4C. Depletion of CHMP4C results in faster resolution of the midbody, the cytoplasmic bridge that connects the daughter cells at the end of cytokinesis. This phenotype correlates with a differential spatiotemporal distribution of CHMP4C at the midbody. As CHMP4C is essential for activating the Aurora B–mediated abscission checkpoint, consequently, depletion of CHMP4C results in the accumulation of genetic damage. Thus, the ESCRT machinery protects the cell against genetic damage by coordinating its cytokinetic activity with the abscission checkpoint.