In most cases, child support ends when a child becomes a legal adult and reaches the “age of emancipation”—typically age 18. However, when a child requires support for a college education, child support mandates change. The following factors will help determine whether or not your child will continue to receive child support while in college.

The Court controls whether or not a child is supported throughout college, but no matter how long the child is in college, all support will stop once they turn 23. Typically, child support will end at age 21 for children who go through an undergraduate program.

Certain instances will cause the child support to stop even while the individual is still in college, including getting married, entering full-time employment, entry to the military, receipt of governmental benefits, and a break from full-time college education. If a child takes a semester off or enrolls in part-time classes, then the child support will stop. If they resume their full-time status before age 23 then the support payments will usually recommence.

If there is no court order that pronounces that a parent must help pay for college, then they are not required to pay child support for this extended period of time. Sometimes a divorce settlement will include a fund for college, but this is separate from child support payments. This is outlined on Mass.gov, which has a copy of the Child Support Guidelines.

In establishing support orders for children over age 18, to the extent permitted by law, the Court shall exercise its discretion in ordering support and/or college contribution. The Court shall consider the reason for the continued residence with and dependence on the Recipient, the child’s academic circumstances, living situation, the available resources of the parents, the costs of post-secondary education for the child, the availability of financial aid and the allocation of these costs is not presumptive, but is based on the above factors.

This above passage means that a number of factors will come into play when the Court determines whether or not to mandate support orders after the age of 18.

Even if the child moves away from home to live off campus, the child support payments must continue, since the custodial parent must support them during the summer and winter breaks.

If you have any questions about obtaining child support, please contact the lawyers at Revelli & Luzzo. We specialize in family law and would love to help you get the money that your child deserves.

For how long do you think a parent should be required to pay child support? We would love to see your answers in the comment section below.