What are New York's laws on child support for adult children attending college?

Understanding New York's Child Support Laws for Adult Children in College

Child support is a crucial aspect of family law designed to ensure that children's needs are met even after their parents' relationship has ended. In New York, as in many other states, child support obligations typically continue until the child reaches the age of majority, which is 21. However, when it comes to adult children attending college, the laws and court decisions can introduce additional considerations for parents.

Statutory Provisions and Court Discretion

New York's Domestic Relations Law ยง240(1-b)(c)(7) provides that a parent's obligation to pay child support may be extended if the child is still in school full-time. While this does not explicitly mandate support for college expenses, it implies that support can continue past the age of majority if the child is pursuing higher education.

The courts have discretion in determining whether a non-custodial parent should contribute to a child's college expenses. Factors considered by the court include the parent's financial ability, the child's academic performance, the type of institution attended (public or private), and whether the expectation of higher education was established prior to the divorce or separation.

Case Law Influences

Case law in New York has further shaped how child support for adult children in college is handled. For instance, in Kaplan v Kaplan, the court addressed a situation where a non-custodial parent was required to contribute to college expenses based on the lifestyle the child would have experienced had the parents remained together. This precedent underscores that historical family intentions play a role in such determinations.

Agreements Between Parents

Sometimes, parents establish their own agreements regarding college expenses during divorce proceedings. These agreements are incorporated into the final divorce decree and carry legal weight. Parents may agree on sharing tuition costs, room and board, books, and other fees associated with higher education.

Modification and Termination of Child Support

If circumstances change significantly, either parent can seek modification of existing child support orders. For example, if a non-custodial parent experiences a substantial change in income, they may petition the court to adjust their contribution towards college expenses.

Conversely, if an adult child becomes self-supporting or discontinues full-time education without cause, a parent could seek termination of support obligations.

In summary, New York's laws on child support for adult children attending college are multifaceted and depend on statutory guidelines, judicial discretion, case law precedents, and parental agreements. Parents navigating these waters must stay informed about their legal responsibilities and rights.

For detailed information on New York State's child support guidelines and legislation, you may visit the official New York State Child Support Standards Chart.