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What Is Post-Secondary Child Support?

What Is Post-Secondary Child Support?

Post-secondary child support, also called post-secondary educational support, is the court-ordered payment for a child’s college or vocational/trade school expenses. Under Missouri state law, the court can order a divorced parent to pay for some or all of their child’s secondary education expenses, including not only colleges and universities, but trade schools and vocational schools. However, this Missouri state law can be confusing. We will try to explain some of it here, but if you need more help, we highly recommend that you consult an attorney.

Post-secondary support for your child’s education can be determined in two ways:

It can be included in your divorce decree and parenting plan. The child’s parents can come to an agreement how the post-secondary education expenses of their child will be divided between the parents in the divorce decree/parenting plan that is entered into court.

Another way is if post-secondary child support can be ordered by the court. Typically, child support ends once a child reaches 18 and becomes a legal adult, but certain state laws have recently allowed courts to order the payment of post-secondary support for education expenses in some cases. This isn’t always obligatory, however. Sometimes the court order is labeled an “advisory,” which means it isn’t binding.

The court will typically consider the following factors before deciding to order post-secondary child support:

  • Financial needs of the child
  • Child’s age
  • Parent’s expectations of child’s post-secondary education needs.
  • The child’s abilities, disabilities, and desires
  • The ability of both parents to pay for the post secondary education calculated using a “Form 14” and weighing other factors.

Typically, the payments are divided between parents much like traditional child support.  The court will also consider who the child currently lives with, and who pays for what expenses regarding the child.

Conditions and Age Limitation

Under Missouri Law, if a child enrolls in “an institution of vocational or higher education”  no later than October first after graduating from high school, the child support obligation will continue to be due as long as:

  • The child remains enrolled in school
  • Completes at least 12 hours of coursework per term
  • Achieves passing grades in at least six hours

Once the child reaches age 21 or “completes his or her education,” whichever comes first, the child support obligation ends.

“An institution of vocational or higher education” is defined as follows:

  • “Institution of vocational education” means any postsecondary training or schooling for which the student is assessed a fee and attends classes regularly.
  • “Higher education” means any community college, college, or university at which the child attends classes regularly.

Other Exceptions

If a child is emancipated, parents typically have no financial obligation, as the child is legally independent. However, in some states and in some cases it is possible for the courts to re-open the case in order to earn children post-secondary child support even after they have been emancipated.

Do you have questions about child support? Do you need to adjust your parenting plan or need help with another family law matter? We highly recommend that you consult with an attorney. Kotlyarov Law Group has ample experience with family law matters including child support modifications, custody and divorce. You can reach us by calling 913-725-0735.

 

Sources:

https://www.mckinleyirvin.com/Family-Law-Blog/2017/June/What-is-Post-Secondary-Child-Support-.aspx

Missouri Child Support Made Easy

Missouri Revised Statutes: 452.340.5

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