What is postsecondary child support and how is it determined?
Perhaps you and your spouse were high school sweethearts, looking at each other with hearts in your eyes. Maybe you met at a party or the produce aisle or even a blind date. Regardless, you made it official at a storybook wedding and went on to make many years of wonderful memories together.
What you’re most proud of are your wonderful children and while you’d of course do anything to keep them safe and sound and provide a fulfilling life, at some point the love between you and your spouse faded and you decided to go your separate ways.
It is frustrating and an enormous emotional challenge in its own right but made tremendously more so with children involved. Often at the fore of that angst is child support in its various iterations.
What is post-secondary child support?
Child support issues can be sticky on a good day but can also turn downright volatile. After potentially many years of monthly support payments, some parents count the days until their child’s last birthday as a minor. Finally, a release from what is typically a substantial monthly burden and freedom to do more things in your life. Or is it?
It comes as an unexpected shock to some parents that child support can be extended beyond traditional childhood age to accommodate “children” attending college. This is referred to as post-secondary child support or post-secondary educational support. In short, this is court-ordered payment of a child’s college expenses. In some states, a court can order a parent to pay some of all of their child’s college education expenses (including trade and vocational schools and in some cases graduate school).
How is it determined?
In Michigan, a court may grant support to a child older than age 18 but only until that child reaches age 19 and 6 months. This is dependent on the child being enrolled as a full-time student and agreements between involved parties are enforceable.
Post-secondary child/educational support is determined in one of two ways:
Included in the divorce and custody agreement
Ideally, both parents will agree on how to handle their children’s college education expenses and these details will be divided per the divorce settlement agreement presented to the court.
Post-secondary support can also be ordered by the court. Child support typically ends when a child reaches age 18 but some state laws allow payment to continue into college years. The court will review the child’s dependence needs and whether she relies on one of the parents for tuition, room, and board. In cases where one of the parents is carrying most of these expenses, the court will sometimes order the other parent to pitch in.
The fine print
Certain conditions must be met for post-secondary child support obligations to remain in effect:
The child must be enrolled in an accredited institution and be pursuing a career path. They must maintain good academic standing (GPA or work hours). The child must also provide both parents with access to all academic records.
For answers to more child support questions, contact Gucciardo Law Firm at (248) 723-5190 or gucciardofamilylaw.com.
Too much information?
We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.