Each state has established its own laws in regards to child support. Like other states, Pennsylvania law requires that both parents financially support their children, even after they are divorced.
In Pennsylvania, parents have to support their children until they are 18. However, if a child does not graduate high school until they are 19, the non-custodial parent may have to pay child support until the child graduates high school.
“Are there any exceptions?” Yes, if a child is emancipated, or if he or she turns 18 but they are no longer attending high school, either parent can file a Petition for Modification for an Existing Support Order, which asks the court to stop the child support.
In some cases, a teenage child may be 18 or older, but he or she may have physical disabilities or mental health challenges that may require child support even after the child’s 19th birthday.
What if a Noncustodial Parent Fails to Pay Child Support?
Nonpayment of child support can lead to several negative consequences, including but not limited to:
- Your bank accounts can be seized.
- Your personal injury and workers’ compensation awards can be seized.
- Your state and federal tax refunds can be seized.
- Your driver license, professional, occupational, and recreational licenses (hunting and fishing) can be suspended.
- Liens can be placed against any real property you own.
- If you win the lottery, it can be intercepted.
- The delinquency can be reported on your credit.
- You can be held in contempt of court, which can result in up to six months in jail and a fine up to $500, and up to six months of probation.
Please be aware that child support arrears cannot be included in bankruptcy. Instead, they remain an outstanding debt until it’s paid in full. If a downward modification of a child support order is allowed by a judge, it will not eliminate or reduce the accumulated arrears.