For Pennsylvania parents who are behind on child support, the threat of prison may be used as an effective incentive for people who are able but unwilling to pay. However, there are critics who argue that imprisonment may lead to the risk of debt or unemployment, further increasing a parent's child support balance.
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.