“Does child support end when a child turns 18 and heads off to college in Pennsylvania?” Unless there is a written agreement stating otherwise, or the child is physically or mentally disabled, a parent’s requirement to pay child support terminates when their son or daughter turns 18, or graduates high school, whichever happens later.
“But, what if my child is in college, am I required to pay child support while they live with my ex and go to college?” Barring an agreement that says you’ll support your child through college, your obligation to pay child support ends when your child turns 18 and has graduated high school.
Are you legally required to pay for college? Paying for your child’s college tuition is strictly voluntarily unless you agree to pay it in the written marital settlement agreement. If you’re getting a divorce and your spouse is asking you to pay for your child’s college education, you’ll have to decide if it’s something you want to do, and if you want to put that promise in writing.
If you want to pay your child’s college tuition and the agreement is put in writing, it becomes a legally enforceable agreement. Meaning, if you fail to pay the tuition as promised, your ex can take you to court and get a judge to order you to pay it. You can look at it as a “contract.”
Does Child Support End Automatically?
People often ask, “Does child support automatically end when my child turns 18?” As we mentioned earlier, child support in Pennsylvania ends when a child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever happens later.
If a parent voluntarily paid child support after it was “supposed to” end; for example, on the date the child graduated high school, the paying parent cannot obtain a reimbursement for overpaid child support.
It’s up to the paying parent to modify the standing court order, even though the courts will often do so automatically; parents just can’t rely on the overburdened courts to terminate child support payments on time. If paying parents don’t want to overpay beyond the termination date, they’re better off filing a motion to modify the child support shortly before it’s set to end.