Under Pennsylvania state law, both parents of a child must provide for that child until he or she turns 18. Child support may be required after the child turns 18 if he or she is still in high school and not emancipated. Once the child has turned 18 and is out of high school, a parent may apply to have support ended.
In certain cases where a child over the age of 18 has special physical or emotional needs, a parent may be required to pay ongoing support. If there is any support that is still owed, that support will need to be paid regardless of how long it takes to do so. Any back support owed is considered to be an outstanding debt until it is repaid even if the child is older than 18.
Child support must generally be paid as either agreed to by the parents or ordered by a judge. If support is not paid, there may be penalties such as a fine or jail time. Those who are in a child support dispute may wish to contact a family law attorney to possibly help resolve the matter. An attorney may be able to help both parties agree to a new support order if it has become impossible for a parent to comply with a current order.
An attorney may also be able to represent a parent in court to either compel compliance with a support order or ask for a child support modification. In the event that an order is modified, any back support owed under an old order may still need to be paid. An attorney may be able to help a parent make arrangements to make those payments and avoid any additional penalties for failure to comply with a previous order.
Source: PA Child Support Program, “Frequently Asked Questions“, December 30, 2014