How does the child support termination process work?

Whether you pay child support or receive it, it is important to understand how the child support termination process works. Most people assume child support just ends when a minor turns 18 and, while that is true in most cases, there are some instances in which it is not.

To determine whether yours is a case in which child support continues beyond 18, the domestic relations section will send a notice and inquiry of emancipation to the obligee and a copy to the obligor. The Pennsylvania Code explores how the child support termination process works.

Inquiry of emancipation

The domestic relations section will send the inquiry of emancipation to both you and the other parent six months before your child’s 18th birthday. This inquiry seeks the following information:

  • Your child’s birthday, date of withdrawal from high school or graduation date;
  • Whether your child still lives with the obligor and, if not, his or her date of departure
  • Any special needs your child may have that may require ongoing support from you and/or the obligor beyond his or her 18th birthday
  • Whether an agreement exists that requires the obligee to support the child beyond his or her graduation date and/or 18th birthday

This information can help the division determine whether ongoing support is necessary.

Failure to fill out or mail the inquiry

The domestic relations section requires parties to fill out and mail the inquiry back within 30 days of receiving it. If you fail to do this, the division will administratively terminate your child support order without further proceedings. The date of official termination is either your child’s 18th birthday or high school graduation date, whichever occurs last.

If your child’s 18th birthday is quickly approaching, be on the lookout for the emancipation inquiry. Filling out the inquiry properly may be the best thing you do for your future finances.


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