QUESTION: Who has to pay child support? My ex-wife and our two kids have moved in with her boyfriend. Do I still have to pay alimony and child support? When will my child support end?

Who has to pay child support in Pennsylvania?

If you have a child, you have a duty to support that child.

Every child in Pennsylvania has the right to be supported by both parents. The duty to support a child exists whether the parents are married, divorced, or have never been married. Even parents who are denied visitation are obligated to pay child support.

When you were married, you never thought about who was supporting the children. Perhaps both you and your spouse contributed to the household finances, or maybe one of you worked while the other provided non-financial support. Once you get divorced, the support must be formalized in a child support agreement. The courts will determine how much should be paid based on both your income and your ex’s income. In most cases, the non-custodial parent makes payments to the parent with physical custody so that money can be used to meet the child’s needs. But, you may still have to pay child support if you have shared custody or even primary custody, as long as you make more than your ex.

When will my child support end?

Child support in Pennsylvania lasts until the child is 18 years old or graduates from high school. In Pennsylvania, a parent only has to pay college expenses if the payment of college costs is part of the divorce agreement. Otherwise, the custodial parent is responsible for college.

Child support doesn’t end when your ex-spouse remarries or moves in with a new partner. However, the courts will consider the additional income to the household and may modify your child support order accordingly.

Child support doesn’t end if a parent or child moves out of state. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act allows child support orders to be enforced across state lines, and includes a provision that only one child support order may be in place at one time.

What if my circumstances change?

You cannot withhold child support because your ex withholds visitation or you don’t like the choices made by your ex. However, you can petition the courts for a change in your custody or child support agreement, especially if there is a change in your financial circumstances. In the meantime, paying child support on time will add credibility to your case. To learn more, please contact Petrelli Previtera at 215-645-4297.