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How long must child support be paid?

Financially supporting one's child is every parent's responsibility. However, when one is ordered to pay child support, it is only natural to wonder for how long one will have to make payments. Every state has different laws regarding this topic. This week's post will cover what Pennsylvania laws have to say about the duration of child support payments.

According to state statutes, if a child support order is in place the obligor will have to make payments until the child reaches the age of 18. It could be longer if the child has special needs or is not self-supporting. On the other hand, an order may be terminated early if:

  • The child is emancipated
  • The child enlists full time in the military
  • The child gets married
  • There is a custody change

In order to terminate a child support order, certain actions need to be taken. One cannot simply stop paying when a child turns 18 or if the obligor feels that the child has met one of the other qualifications for support cutoff. A petition has to be filed, identifying the child and the reason for the termination request. Before one can stop making payments, a termination order will need to be approved.

This all seems simple enough, but there may be reasons that the payee will request that payments continue. This can drag out the length of time one ends up making child support payments and can result in overpayment. Getting money back is not exactly a walk in the park. Those in Pennsylvania who believe that their children have aged out or have met one of the other qualifications for support termination can seek assistance from an experienced attorney to get their orders of support discontinued.

Source:, "231 Pa. Code Rule 1910.19. Support. Modification. Termination. Guidelines as Substantial Change in Circumstances. Overpayments.", Accessed on May 25, 2017

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