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Does my ex have to pay for our kid's college bills?

Most people understand that child support has to be paid up until the child reaches the age of majority, or 18. If, however, the child is still attending high school at or after the age of 18, the child support must continue to be paid until that child either graduates or leaves school.

But what about if the child plans on attending college? What responsibility does a non-custodial parent have to continue paying child support for a college student?

Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, that depends. Family court judges have a great deal of latitude when determining whether to order that child support shall be continued to be paid.

For instance, judges can order that the monthly payments to the child's other parent be discontinued, but that the parent paying support must contribute a percentage of the child's college expenses.

It is left to the discretion of the judge whether to order these contributions, and he or she must consider many factors. They may include:

-- The academic situation of the college-bound child

-- The costs of the college education

-- Why the child resides with and/or depends upon the recipient of the support

-- The child's living situation

-- Both parents resources

-- Whether financial aid is available and utilized

-- How educational costs are allocated by the parents, if at all

If you are divorcing a spouse with whom you share college-bound children, it is important to address the matter of continued support and/or payment of educational costs for them by their non-custodial parent after they reach the age of 18. This should be specified in the divorce judgment in order to ensure the payments are made/costs covered.

Source: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, "Child Support Guidelines," Robert A, Mulligan, accessed Dec. 02, 2016

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