Does The Payor Have To Pay Child Support While A Child Is In College?
There are many questions surrounding child support in Florida, particularly when the child support obligation is terminated. Many parents believe that the payor is required to pay for the supported child’s college costs even after the child turns 18.
Paying college costs is a huge burden for many students and their parents in Florida and other states. This is evident from the U.S. student loan debt that totals $1.7 trillion. So, can a parent in Florida be required to pay child support while a child is in college?
Do You Have an Obligation to Pay Child Support While a Child is in College?
In Florida, a parent cannot be required to pay child support after the child reaches the age of majority (18) or graduates from high school unless the child has a qualifying disability. In other words, it means that the payor does not have an obligation to pay child support while a child is in college, regardless of the parent’s ability to pay for college.
In other states, the payor is required to go to court to formally terminate their child support obligation. In Florida, on the other hand, the payor has a specified termination date or circumstances that warrant an automatic termination and does not need to go to court to end their obligation.
What if There is a Child Support Order from Another State?
While Florida parents are not required to pay child support while a supported child is in college, other states allow courts to order parents to continue financially supporting their children in college.
Thus, if a Florida court receives a child support order issued by a court in another state and that order specifies that the payor must pay child support while the child is in college, the court in Florida will enforce the order.
Parents May Include the Obligation to Pay for College in a Divorce Decree
While Florida courts cannot force parents to pay child support while a child is in college, the divorced parents can choose to include the payor’s obligation to pay for college when writing a divorce decree.
A divorce decree is an enforceable agreement, which is why any provisions it contains must be followed. It is advisable to seek the legal counsel of an experienced attorney to help you draft a valid and enforceable divorce decree that addresses the issue of paying for college.
What if a Child Has a Disability?
As mentioned earlier, the payor may be forced to pay child support even after the child turns 18 or graduates from high school if the child has a disability. However, in that situation, the divorce decree should clearly specify that the payor will be paying child support beyond the child’s 18th birthday and/or graduation.
The payor may disagree with paying child support while a child is in college. In that situation, the recipient can go to court to enforce child support payments. Regardless of whether you are the one who refuses to pay child support or the one who needs to force the other parent to pay support, it is vital to work with an experienced attorney.