In Pennsylvania, child support terminates when a child reaches the age of eighteen (18) and graduates from high school. In Pennsylvania, a parent does not have to pay college expenses for a child who is over 18 unless this has been agreed upon as part of a divorce case.
For a family that separates prior to children completing college, these rules can be devastatingly burdensome to the custodial parent as college age is probably the time when children become most expensive. However, because children are considered adults at this age in Pennsylvania, the court will not order child support or college tuition payments. While difficult for the custodial parent, this type of law also protects the non-custodial/support paying parent from being directed by the court as to his or her financial participation in an adult child’s life.
What is the process for ending child support?
According to the Pennsylvania Code, a parent paying child support receives a copy of a notice six months before a child support order is scheduled to terminate. The original notice is sent to the parent receiving the payments. This notice seeks to verify items such as graduation date, residence of the child and other information to ensure the child is no longer a dependent of the parent receiving child support. Parents have thirty days to respond and the order is terminated if no response is received.
This process takes place if and only if there are no other children for whom a parent pays child support under the same order or there are no children under the order designated as special needs. Otherwise, the child who is no longer dependent is dropped from the order and a modification of the order takes place accordingly, as directed under the Pennsylvania Code.
If you are paying or receiving child support, be prepared for the termination date of any child on the order. Reach out to the other parent and attempt to negotiate a new amount to become effective (or complete termination if it only covers one child). If the other parent does not agree, file a petition with the court prior to the emancipation date.
Child support issues often cause ill will and friction between separated parents. However, with an experienced and balanced approach, child support matters can often be resolved by agreement without extensive litigation. The key is to know the difference between potentially complex support cases and those where settlement is appropriate. You may rely on our firm to make this determination and ensure that your children receive the fair amount of support they deserve.
Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby provides seasoned representation in child support matters. For more information, contact us online or call our office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at 412-261-4040.