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Michael E. Bertin partner with Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel. Michael E. Bertin partner with Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel.

In Pennsylvania, a parent’s duty of child support terminates upon the emancipation of the child. Generally, emancipation occurs when a child reaches the age of 18 years old or graduates from high school, whichever occurs last. However, when there is a mental or physical condition that prevents the child from being able to support himself after the child reaches age 18 or graduating high school, the parental obligation of support may continue.

In the recent case of M.E.W. v. W.L.W., 240 A.3d 626 (Pa. Super. 2020) numerous issues pertaining to a child support obligation regarding a disabled adult child were addressed. The pertinent facts of the M.E.W. case are as follows: M.E.W. and W.L.W. were married and subsequently divorced and are the parents of three children. According to the opinion, the parties stipulated that their child, J.Z.W., is unable to engage in gainful employment in order to support himself. By an Orphans Court decree, J.Z.W. was found to be “a totally incapacitated person whose ability to receive and evaluate information effectively and communicate decisions is impaired to such a degree that he is totally unable to meet the essential requirements of his physical health and safety; and totally unable to manage his own financial resources.” The mother was appointed guardian for J.Z.W. Prior to the Orphans Court decree, the parties entered into a marital settlement agreement. In the parties’ marital settlement agreement, it included a provision for alimony that referenced the support of J.Z.W.

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