Do Divorced Parents Have to Pay for Their Child’s College?

Home » Blog » Do Divorced Parents Have to Pay for Their Child’s College?

College is expensive. As such, most parents contribute to its cost to the extent they can do so for their children. Divorce can change this to some extent. Parents are required to pay child support until their children are 21 years old. Whether that includes college expenses is subject to specific rules under New York child support laws.

What Expenses Are Covered By New York Child Support?

Basic child support encompasses essentials like food, clothing and shelter. The amount awarded is determined by a statutory formula

Other costs are considered add-on expenses, which if not statutory, may or may not be paid at the judge’s discretion or as the parties agree. Add-on expenses include insurance, unreimbursed medical costs, child care, extracurricular school activities, tutoring and college among other things. 

In deciding whether to order payment of non-statutory add-on expenses, the judge will look to maintain the same standard of living the children would have had if their parents were together. Accordingly, if the parents would likely have paid for their children’s college when married, in whole or in part, they would be expected to cover those expenses after divorce.

Add-on expenses are shared by both parents and paid pro rata according to the parties’ respective incomes.

How Long Do Parents Have to Pay for College?

Under New York law, parents are obligated to pay child support only until a child is 21 years old. However, when getting a divorce, parents should agree and include a provision in their separation or parenting agreement to continue to pay support until the child reaches 22 years old and graduates. Otherwise, the child may be left with no funds to finish school. Ideally, the agreement should state that child support continues until 3 months after graduation to give the child time to find a job.

Can Parents Negotiate Child Support?

The statutory guidelines allow parents to negotiate support, particularly with respect to add-on expenses. It is usually best for parents to come to their own agreement rather than go to court, which is both time-consuming and expensive. However, note that the judge will review the agreement to ensure that children are not losing out because their parents chose to settle.

An experienced attorney can help you understand and resolve issues of child support including college expenses. If you are a parent considering divorce, please contact us so we can assist you in finding the best solution for you and your children.

Related Posts

Contact Us

Recent Posts