In part 3 of our series on the 2017 Child Support Guidelines, we will be addressing child support for children between 18-23 years old and parental contribution to post-secondary educational expenses. If you would like to read about other changes, please see Part 1 – the Overview and Part 2 – Changes to Minimums of this series.

Today’s article addresses changes in the Child Support Guidelines as they apply to child support for children between 18-23 years old and parental contribution to post-secondary educational expenses.  Though these are two changes that are separate and apart from each other, they are often reviewed, and determined, in conjunction with the other.

Child Support for Children Between 18-23 Years Old

Previously, the child support guidelines allowed a court to exercise its discretion in ordering support and/or college contribution after consideration of the “reason for continued residence with and dependence on the recipient [of child support], the child’s academic circumstances, living situation, the available resources of the parents, the costs of post-secondary education for the child, the availability of financial aid and the allocation of these costs, if any, between the parents.” The Guidelines noted that contribution to college costs was determined after review of the previously mentioned factors and was not presumptive, but that “If a specific college contribution is ordered, this contribution shall be considered by the Court in setting the weekly support order, if any.”

The new child support guidelines, and the calculation worksheet, now account for the age of the older children, by reducing the amount of child support for children age 18 or older by 25%. The Task Force noted that “this change balances the requirement imposed by federal regulation that all child support orders are the product of formulas established by guidelines, while also considering important factors unique to children between the ages of 18 and 23.”  Understand, however, that there is nothing in the Child Support Guidelines that limits the Court’s ability to deviate from the presumptive order where it is deemed appropriate

Parental Contribution to Post-Secondary Educational Expenses

The 2017 Child Support Guidelines cap each parent’s court-ordered contribution to post-secondary educational expenses at 50% of the undergraduate, in-state resident costs of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst as set out in the “Published Annual College Costs Before Financial Aid” in the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges (this includes fees, tuition, room and board). This cap is recommended for most cases, but it is not mandatory. A Court may order a parent to contribute more than 50% of the undergraduate, in-state resident costs of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst if written findings enter that a parent has the ability to pay a higher amount. If your child(ren) were enrolled in post secondary education before the effective date of these guidelines (September 15, 2017), this does not apply.  If a parent/parents are found to have an ability to pay a higher amount before the effective date of these guidelines (September 15, 2017), this does not apply.

You can find the form that will be used by the Court in its consideration here: 2017 Child Support Post Secondary Education Form

We will have one final part to this series.  As always, each case is specific as to the facts.  If you have individual questions about your case, please contact me to discuss your case here.