Post-Secondary Child Support

Posted on January 10, 2012 by


Until recently I had no idea such a thing existed. Like most people I’m sure, I was under the impression that state-enforced child support obligations cease when the minor child is no longer a legal minor. Apparently this isn’t always the case. Some states have provisions in place to enforce post-secondary educational support requiring the non-custodial parent to continue to make monthly support payments if the now legal adult child begins college after graduating high school.

From divorcenet.com:

Generally, many noncustodial divorced parents view their childen’s last birthday as a minor as a reason to celebrate. Depending upon the state you live in, this can be at age 18, 19, or 21. The usually weighty burdens of having to meet a monthly child support obligation will finally be removed from your weary pocketbook. You can take your first vacation in years, quit working overtime just to make ends meet, fix the deck, or complete any number of tasks that have been put on hold for the past few years. This is not just a celebration of another year passing for your child, nor merely their emancipation; you are finally free from a support obligation. Or are you?

To the dismay of many unwitting parents, “child” support can be extended beyond childhood. Not simply because back support is owing. Support can be extended while the “child” is in college or attending university. This is called post secondary educational support (also referred to as post minority support). When sought, the surprise and/or shock to the noncustodial parent can be so significant, that a fruitful settlement dialogue is often difficult to achieve.

I imagine the shock would be quite significant, given that parents who remain married throughout the duration of their child’s minor life are under no legally enforced obligation to foot the bill for their child’s post-secondary education. A proposition so clearly discriminatory should never have been entertained in any courtroom. So much for equal protection. Again.

The linked article gives a state by state analysis of post-secondary support laws at the time the piece was compiled.