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When Does Child Support End in Pennsylvania?

Child Support

All parents in Pennsylvania have an obligation to financially support their children – whether they are married or not. In the event of a divorce, one parent will be responsible for paying child support to the other parent and help cover the costs of raising a child. 

However, making these monthly payments for years can be quite a financial burden. Many paying parents wonder when these payments will end. 

When Can a Parent Stop Paying Child Support in Pennsylvania? 

Parents must pay child support until the child reaches 18 years of age—commonly known as the “age of maturity”—or when the child graduates high school (whichever occurs later). However, there are some exceptions. In some cases, a child support order can be either extended or terminated early. 

When Can Child Support be Extended? 

A child support order can be extended past the child’s 18th or even 21st birthday. For example, parents can agree—as part of a divorce case—to pay for a child’s college expenses until he/she graduates. 

Additionally, a child with special needs may not be able to become self-supporting when he/she reaches adulthood. In such cases, monthly child support payments may continue indefinitely. 

When Can Child Support be Terminated Early? 

On the other hand, a child support order can be terminated early if the child leaves the home and becomes emancipated (i.e., self-supporting), gets married, or joins the military. 

Does Child Support Automatically End in PA? 

While there may be a termination date on the child support order, it does not automatically end. In Pennsylvania, the paying parent must submit a Petition for Modification of an Existing Support Order with the Domestic Relations Section (DRS) office to stop payments. Until the order is terminated, the noncustodial parent must continue making payments. 

What If I Still Owe for Missed Child Support Payments? 

Before an existing child support order can be terminated, the noncustodial parent must pay any money they owe from missed payments. This money is known as “arrears,” and is still owed after the order ends. 

If you are interested in modifying or terminating a child support order in Philadelphia, call William Kirby Law at (215) 515-9901 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule an initial consultation. Serving clients in Burlington, Gloucester, Camden, Bucks, Montgomery, and Other Surrounding Counties.