I have been divorced for 10 years and my daughters finally grown up and moving away to college. She has just turned 18 and is moving away to college this summer, and starting her college during the summer semester. Her grandparents are paying for college, so I don’t see why I should have to pay child support anymore. My divorce settlement agreement did not have anything in it pertaining to my child going to college or if I had to pay or if we both had to split the tuition. I would just like to know how long I must pay for child support, since she no longer lives with my spouse, why should I be paying that money every month?
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts the obligation to pay child support can remain in effect until the child has reached the age of 23. Generally the ages that child support obligations and are between 18 – 23 years of age, depending on the particular situation. Although in certain situations, such as having a disabled child, under those rare occasions a parent can petition the court for child support beyond the age of 23, but this is rare. Generally child support obligations remain in effect until the child becomes emancipated.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts defines the age of emancipation for a child as follows:
18, if the child is no longer dependent on the parent with physical custody, because they have moved out (except for college), has a full-time job, got married or has enlisted in the military.
21, is the next cutoff age, unless the child is enrolled in college to obtain an Associates degree or a Bachelor’s degree.
23, is the cutoff age no matter what, unless the child is disabled and the matter is brought before a Family Court judge, to decide the particular situations of that case.
Furthermore in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the noncustodial parent has a responsibility to pay part or all of the child’s college expenses. Of course this would be mitigated on numerous circumstances such as the amount of child support paid for the child, economic situations, and how good your divorce lawyer is. There are less than 20 states in the country that still have the obligation of the noncustodial parent to pay for college, for a child of a divorce. Although, it is interesting that the same states do not require parents to pay for the college tuition of the children, if the parents are not divorced, which confuses many people and lawyers alike. My advice to you would be to seek the advice of an experienced divorce attorney, who handles complex child support obligations in a case such as yours. Simply because the grandparents are going to be paying for college, does not mean that you would do not have the obligation to contribute to the college expenses of your child also. We have handle these matters on both sides, and the experience of the law firm handling your case and the facts of your particular situation, have the greatest impact on the situation. Just understand it is not an automatic obligation, but when it’s petition to the court’s, many times such an application is enforced by the courts.
Joseph F. Botelho, Esq.
BOTELHO LAW GROUP
Attorneys At Law
901 Eastern Ave.
Fall River, MA 02723
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