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Does Child Support Cover College Expenses?

by | Sep 21, 2021 | News and Events

Child support laws in New York are very different than they are in other states. As a result, this can leave many parents confused about what their legal responsibilities are with regard to the financial support of their minor child and when child support obligations end. A related concern is whether or not New York mandates that parents contribute toward a child’s college expenses.

Here’s what you should know and when to seek the support of an experienced Long Island child support lawyer.

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When Child Support Legally Ends In New York

In New York, child support as a whole is governed by a subsection of the Domestic Relations Law known as the “Child Support Standards Act” or “CSSA” for short. The CSSA decides both how much and how long a parent must pay child support.

Although child support in many states ends when a child turns 18, this isn’t so on Long Island. Per the CSSA, the termination of child support occurs when the recipient becomes 21 years old, unless the child has a signed emancipation agreement.

This assumes that the child is either enrolled in college full-time or is still living with the custodial parent and/or unable to support themselves. If a child has an emancipation agreement, child support may be terminated before age 21.

Emancipation may be called for if a child is living on their own and working full-time, married, or serving in the U.S. military. However, working or serving in the military does not automatically make a child under 21 emancipated; they must file for and receive documentation stating their emancipation status.

Parental Obligations to Pay College Expenses on Long Island

Many parents want to know if college tuition is included in Long Island child support due to the fact that support typically expires after a child begins going to college. Under New York family law, parents are often required to contribute a certain amount toward a child’s city or state college tuition up to a specified cap. The amount of the cap is dependent on whether a child attends a New York city or state university.

If a child chooses to attend a private college, these child support caps are frequently still specified as the amount that each parent is expected to contribute. This is a powerful incentive for students to graduate from a four-year higher education plan, or they may risk accruing more student debt than they anticipated.

Supporting Children Over the Age of 21 While in College

If a child is taking college classes, parents may decide to extend child support an additional year, when the child reaches the age of 22. This is commonly done in New York, assuming that the student is enrolled in a four-year degree program and will graduate at the age of 22.

If the child’s parents do not mutually and voluntarily agree to extend child support until the child graduates, the CSSA limits the court’s ability to order either parent to pay support. In these cases, support will end when the child is 21, even if they are currently enrolled in a higher education program.

At this time, student loans may be required to meet the child’s financial needs while they finish the remainder of their four-year degree. In some instances, the withdrawal of child support at the age of 21 results in a child’s inability to finish their last year of college, or may result in it becoming postponed for an extended period of time.

Get Experienced Help with Your Long Island Child Support Case Now

If you’re involved in a Long Island child support, child custody and visitation, or divorce case, it’s critical that you have trustworthy legal support you can rely on. At Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., we know how complicated child support cases in New York can get under CSSA laws, and we’re here to help.

We have experience representing parents on both sides of the child support dilemma; we will zealously advocate for your best interests whether you are the primary custodian or simply have legal custody and visitation.

Contact our office today for your consultation by calling us at 631-923-1910 or fill in the short form on this page. We’re available now to provide you with assistance.

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