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A look at the duration that child support orders are in effect

Pennsylvania parents may be interested in some information about when required child support payments end. While there are certain ages at which this requirement stops, some circumstances could extend the payment period beyond adulthood.

When a court orders a noncustodial parent to pay child support to their child's custodial parent, questions often arise as to how long this support needs to be paid. Generally, there are a few specific milestones that signify the end of child support responsibilities. One of these is when the child reaches the age of majority, which is usually age 18. Some states, however, use 21 as their cutoff age. In other cases, if a child becomes independent and emancipated, child support is no longer required. This can happen prior to the age of majority, such as if the child gets married or joins the armed services.

Some situations require child support to be paid beyond the child's age of majority. For example, some state laws or specific child support agreements dictate that support must continue throughout college to help pay for the child's higher education. Additionally, a child with special needs or a disability may require child support for a longer period of time. When the time comes to end the child support, it generally does not happen automatically. The parent paying the support needs to petition a court in order to stop the payment requirement.

Understanding the rules that govern child support orders may be difficult without the assistance of a family law attorney. The attorney may be able to explain the process to a parent and represent them during a child support hearing. The attorney may also be helpful in bringing a motion to end or modify a child support order should circumstances change.

Source: FindLaw, " When Does Child Support End?," Accessed Feb. 6, 2015

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