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College Planning With Your Child for After Graduation

College Planning With Your Child for After Graduation

As your current high school junior dons their graduation cap and walks across the stage at their commencement ceremony next spring, you will feel a sense of pride as they move on to the next chapter of their life. But as a parent with joint custody, you may be concerned about what your child going to college means for future support. Our child custody and support attorneys share what you need to know as a parent of a future college student with child support obligations.

What Happens to Child Support When My Child Goes to College?

Child support in the state of New York continues until the child turns 21 or becomes emancipated in the eyes of the court. For most college students, child support will continue until midway through their third year of undergraduate education.

Even if the child moves out of the custodial parent’s home into a dormitory or off-campus apartment, this financial support will still be paid. The support payments should still be used to sustain the lifestyle of the child and can be used for the upkeep of the child’s home environment at the custodial parent’s home.

However, the payor of child support can file for a child support reduction if the child is living away from home and the parent contributes to the child’s educational expenses.

Am I Required to Pay for Tuition As the Custodial Parent?

With the rising costs of universities and colleges, you may be concerned about how your child’s education will be paid for. If the child already has a college savings account, then that should be used to pay for the child’s tuition. Likewise, during the negotiation of child custody during the parents’ divorce, the parent may make an agreement regarding the payment of the child’s college expenses. If there is such a stipulation in the child custody and support agreement, the parents should follow it.

In most agreements regarding tuition, both parents may agree on a maximum payable amount towards the child’s education. The “cap” on tuition payments often is referred to as the “SUNY Cap,” where parents agree to pay the cost of tuition at a public university in New York state. This cap does not bind the child to only attending a public university in New York and they can pursue an education at a private university or a university outside of the state, however, they may only receive the cost of a New York public university.

Ultimately, your child should decide which university they will attend, but you should stay informed as a parent during the process. Talk to your child about their applications, plan college tours, sit down together to map out their college choices, and be supportive of your child throughout the process.

What Happens to Child Support If My Child Doesn’t Go to College?

Some children may not wish to attend college or community college after graduation and instead may wish to pursue vocational school, join the military, or enter the workforce. Your child support obligations are affected by the path your child takes after their high school graduation.

If your child pursues further education, such as community college or vocational school, the paying parent is still responsible for child support payments until the child reaches the age of 21. However, if your child joins the military or begins working full-time during this period, you will not need to continue paying child support as the court will terminate support obligations early. The court views full-time employment and military service as situations in which the child is considered emancipated from their parents, as they can fully support themselves with their income.

Friedman & Friedman PLLC, Attorneys at Law Child Custody and Support Attorneys

Our team at Friedman & Friedman PLLC, Attorneys at Law is backed by several decades of experience representing families in custody and support matters. We’ve watched as many of our clients’ children have grown up and gone to college, guiding them on custody matters throughout the process.

Are you planning for your child’s college experience as a parent with joint custody? Schedule a consultation with our child custody attorneys by calling us at (516) 688-0088 or filling out our online contact form.


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