3 Things About Child Support and College Expenses You Didn’t Know
When you are divorced and have children, many parents have to deal with helping their child pay for college tuition during the time they are still paying child support.
1.) The Requirement to Pay College Expenses
A court is empowered to direct parents to contribute to the college expenses of the child. The court, in making a determination, will consider the parent’s educational background, the child’s academic aptitude, as well as the financial circumstances of the parties.
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- College support is discretionary, and not a mandatory add-on under the Child Support Standards Act.
- A court can order either party to pay for some or all of their children’s college expenses based on the family’s resources, the amount of income available to both parties, the parties’ education and their pre-divorce educational expectations for their children.
2.) Paying for College Expenses Until Graduation
A court can order payment of child support only through a child’s 21st birthday. That includes all mandatory and discretionary support items, which means a court cannot order college expenses to continue past a child’s 21st birthday. We encourage both parties to consider this issue while they are negotiating their agreement, and we try to assist them in working out how college expenses will be paid – usually through the child’s fourth year of college – even after the age of 21.
- Court-ordered child support, including mandatory and discretionary support items, continues only through a child’s 21st birthday.
- A court cannot order college expenses to continue past a child’s 21st birthday.
- Both parties should consider this issue as they negotiate their agreement and work with an attorney who can assist them in working out how college expenses will be paid past the age of 21– perhaps through the fourth year of college.
3.) Limiting Your Contributions to a SUNY College
Clients often ask us if it is permissible to limit their contribution to college expenses to a SUNY or public college expense level and – provided the parties include that limitation in a negotiated agreement – the answer is yes, you can. While some appellate cases do state that it would be improper for a court to make that determination, it is not uncommon for the parties to agree on such conditions as part of their negotiated agreement.
- Clients may limit their college expense contributions to a SUNY or public college expense level, provided the parties include that limitation in a negotiated agreement.
- Some appellate cases state that it would be improper for a court to make that determination, but it is common for parties to include such conditions as part of their negotiated agreement.
If you recently have gone through a divorce with children and they are reaching college age, or if you have children in college while you are paying child support, contact our dedicated Child Support Attorneys in Saratoga County.
This educational blog was brought to you by Jean Mahserjian, an experienced Saratoga Child Support Attorney in Clifton Park.