Are you currently paying support in Pennsylvania? The laws regarding the termination of child support are complex and sometimes confusing. If you want to know when your obligations for paying child support end, you need the services of an experienced Pennsylvania family law attorney.
The Philadelphia child support attorneys at Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC, have prepared this article to provide a guide on the conditions and legal processes for ending child support in Pennsylvania.
When Child Support Ends in PA
Parents are legally obligated to provide financial support to their children. This obligation exists no matter the relationship status between the parents. However, this obligation is not indefinite as there are legally recognized conditions that terminate a parent’s obligation to pay child support in Pennsylvania.
Your Child Reaches the Age of Maturity
A child is considered to have reached maturity when they reach the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later, as stated below. Under Pennsylvania child support laws (§4321(1)), your obligation to pay child support ends when your child reaches 18. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, as explained below.
Your Child Graduates High School
Your child support obligation may end after your child graduates High School. If your child reaches 18 while in their senior year, you are obligated to pay child support until they graduate. Similarly, if your child turns 18 after graduating High School, you must pay child support until they turn 18.
Your Child Becomes Emancipated
In Pennsylvania, a child who is below the age of 18 can become emancipated. This means they have the same legal rights as an adult, i.e., an individual 18 or older. If your child has become legally emancipated, you are no longer required to pay child support under Pennsylvania law (§4323). Emancipation is very difficult to prove.
Your Child Enlists in the Military
Generally, a person must be 18 years of age to enlist in the military. However, a child can join the military if they are 17 and have permission from their parents. If your child enters the military and is below 18, your child support obligation is terminated as a military enlistment is considered emancipation.
Your Child Gets Married
Marriage of a child is another circumstance that may lead to the termination of child support. Under Pennsylvania law (§1304(b)), persons under 18 are not permitted to obtain marriage licenses. Theoretically, your obligation to pay child support may end if your 18-year-old child gets married while still in High School, as marriage is also considered a form of emancipation.
Modifying Your Child Support Agreement
A child support agreement cannot be arbitrarily modified. Instead, changing a child support agreement in Pennsylvania requires you to follow the appropriate legal process. Specifically, you must file a Petition for Modification pursuant to Rule 1910.19(a), demonstrating a “material and substantial change in circumstances” sufficient to justify a modification.
Can Child Support Get Extended?
In certain situations, child support may be extended. If your child has special needs that prevent them from becoming self-sufficient, you may be required to continue paying child support. Additionally, you may be obligated to continue paying child support after your child reaches 18 if you agree to this condition during your divorce.
Does a Child Support Agreement Automatically End?
Child support agreements do not automatically end. As the paying parent, you must take specific steps and follow the legal process to terminate your child support obligations in Pennsylvania. You may face legal consequences if you simply stop paying child support.
Steps the Paying Parent Needs to Take Leading Up to Termination
To be relieved of your obligation to pay child support, you must file a Petition to Terminate Child Support pursuant to Rule 1910.19. It is best to file this Petition well before a Pennsylvania child support order expires or before your child turns 18. This ensures a judge reviews your Petition promptly.
Arrears Owed After Child Support Ends
Sometimes, people fall behind on their child support obligations. You cannot terminate child support if you owe outstanding child support payments. Accordingly, you should work out a plan to pay off any remaining child support obligations.
Child Support Payment FAQs
Are you a non-custodial parent who is paying child support? Do you want to know when you can no longer pay child support? The family law lawyers at Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC have successfully litigated child support matters for over 30 years.
Do You Still Have To Pay Child Support If the Child Goes to College in PA?
Maybe. Specifically, you will be required to pay child support or college costs if there is a written agreement between you and the other parent. Absent such an agreement or other legal obligation, you do not have to pay child support once your child reaches 18 or graduates from High School.
Does Signing Over Parental Rights Stop Child Support in Pennsylvania?
Yes. When a person’s parental rights are terminated, they are no longer required to pay child support. This is because no legal relationship exists between them and the child.
Talk with an Experienced Philadelphia Family Lawyer for Your Child Support Questions
If you want to terminate or modify your child support obligations, you need the services of a skilled Pennsylvania family law attorney. The lawyers at Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC, have successfully guided clients through the child support process for over 30 years. To learn more about our services, contact us today for a free consultation!