child support college expenses

Older Children and College Expenses

Divorce mediation gives you a major advantage over litigating in court: it allows you to craft your own agreement, in private and on your own terms. But if you have children—even children out of high school—you’ll have to consider child support and post-high school expenses.

Every four years, a task force updates the child-support guidelines, most recently in September, 2017. Two important changes could affect you if you have children who have graduated from high school.

The old guidelines were silent as to how much child support a parent should pay if a child was out of high school. Some people argued that if a parent contributes to college, why should that parent pay any child support?

The new guidelines address the problem. They call for a 25% reduction in support from what a parent would pay for a child who hasn’t graduated high school. Of course, there may be circumstances when this figure doesn’t make sense, especially if a parent is contributing to college.

Speaking of college, the guidelines now deal specifically with college costs (or “post-secondary educational expenses,” including vocational education). A judge can order someone to contribute to post-secondary expenses, but “No parent shall be ordered to pay an amount in excess of fifty percent of the undergraduate, in-state resident costs of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, unless the Court [determines] that a parent has the ability to pay a higher amount.”

If you have the desire (and energy) to read the new guidelines, you can find them here: The 2017 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines.

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Dan Dalton

Divorce Mediator & Attorney