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  1. #1

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    Parent obligation to help pay for college

    What obligation does the non-custodial parent (never married to the mother) have in regards to college tuition and expenses? For the record, I have always paid child support, unreimbursed medical expenses, and some extras. The choice of the college was never discussed with me until the decision was already made as to which college the child would be attending. It happens to be an expensive, out-of-state, private school. Couldn't the child support that I am paying her go directly to the college for the 9 mos that the child is at school and not living with the mother and then to the mother directly when the child is home from school? I earn a modest living. Modest being after child support & taxes and before paying any bills I earn approximately 25K. Any help with this is appreciated.


  2. Moderator Honorable Colleague

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    College tuition obligations are handled differently in different states. If it's not addressed in your child support order, then generally you are not obligated to help with tuition.

    It may be possible for the CP to ask for a modification to include college tuition. Also, some states also allow child support to count towards any obligation for the tuition.
    I'm not a lawyer

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    chuck53 (10-19-2008)

  4. #3
    Moderator Honorable Scholar

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    Most states do not force a NCP to pay for college. Unless it is in your order, then you do not have too. I do not agree with any court forcing a NCP to pay for it when there is no guarantee an intact family would even pay for it. What state are you in? Unless told otherwise CS stops at 18 or age of majority in states, and college is optional. Based on your income it is totally unrealistic to expect you to pay half for college. You can offer to pay what you can but it depends on your state. Have you actually been served with any papers?
    I am not an attorney. Do not consider this legal advice.

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    chuck53 (10-20-2008)

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    Thanks for your response! I am in New York State. There was never anything in writing about any contribution towards college tuition or expenses. Because we were never married, there was never any divorce decree to stipulate this type of situation. Yes, I have been served papers. What was sent to me recently was a Petition for Modification of an Order of Support through the Family Court of the State of New York in the county in which my child's mother lives. There seems to be no consistency. The laws from state to state(or even in the same state) and judge to judge seem to vary in the cases I have read. Is there any set guidelines out there as to what I can expect? Please advise. Thanks!

  7. #5
    Moderator Honorable Colleague

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    You are quite right in that there isn't consistency. Although the laws are the same throughout the state, they are applied differently from courtroom to courtroom.

    Unfortunately, New York statute allows the court to impose the obligation for college tuition, so it may be possible that you will be ordered to help. It is also possible for you to request that your child support payments be credited toward the tuition obligation, especially since there was no divorce decree stipulating the obligation.

    Unless you have joint legal custody of your son, then there was no requirement to consult you about the choice of college. If you do have joint legal, then that's in your favor; however, you may still be expected to contribute toward the costs that would be incurred in a state university.

    Your income will probably be a factor in the decision, though I have no idea how much of a factor.

    I suggest you have an attorney for the hearing, preferably one who has been before your judge before.

    Good Luck
    I'm not a lawyer

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    From what I understand the judge hearing the case is a woman. I realize that she has to be fair and impartial but could it help me in any way to pick a female attorney to represent me? I hate to come across so calculated, but I am grasping for any edge at this point. I feel like a sitting duck at the judge's mercy and God help me if she is having a bad day that day. I need to go for a consultation with an attorney soon before my mind gets the best of me. Please advise! Thanks!

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    Moderator Honorable Colleague

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    Without knowing the judge, I don't think anyone can tell you that. Sorry.
    I'm not a lawyer

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    College support

    Chuck, when I read your post, at first I thought you were my ex - as his name is Chuck! We're somewhat on the same page - so maybe I can fill you in. I am in PA, never married to the father that lives in CO. Jurisdiction was in CO, and age of majority there is age 19. College assistance can be requested providing it is needed to age 21 - if there was a written agreement between parents (which there was, but he backed out this fall) or if a Judge sees situations allow it. There's a twist to this situation though. I never took him back to court for child support modification, as he agreed in writing toward CS modification and college support. He pays toward health and dental, and we split reimbursement payments. He has not paid CS toward the amount he agreed to since 2006. He has ignored my certified mail on how he wishes to handle this - so he left me with no choice but to file litigation.

    Okay - now back to you. You need to find out the age of majority in NY or state that has jurisdiction. Also if college assistance (not called child support) applies. The mother could possibly pursue this - and don't you want to help your child in some way to pursue their education? I'm sure the Judge could arrange that you do not pay the mother directly if you request it. And YES, Judges/Attorneys can be biased. I knew for a fact that my ex's lawyer was good buds with the Judge. You can ask for a different Judge if you DO feel there is some type of bias. I am doing so at this point in time. My ex has a nice income - and can easily assist toward his son's education. You could offer to pay for part of tuition/books, and/or meal plans. The Judge will look positive on you for WANTING to help in some manner. This can be paid direct to the college.

    Now your child can help too...advise he/she to make good grades and that high GPA will assist in obtaining grants and scholarships. Every little bit helps. Good luck!

    I'm not a lawyer, but have an AA in Paralegal Studies, and giving suggestions only.

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    chuck53 (11-01-2008)

  12. #9

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    Hi! Thanks for your response. That must have been funny for a minute(or maybe not) for you to think I was your ex. I am copying my first post for you to read in case you did not read it. It has some specific questions and my salary(before the requested amount my child's mother is petitioning for college expenses). Here it is..What obligation does the non-custodial parent (never married to the mother) have in regards to college tuition and expenses? For the record, I have always paid child support, unreimbursed medical expenses, and some extras. The choice of the college was never discussed with me until the decision was already made as to which college the child would be attending. It happens to be an expensive, out-of-state, private school. Couldn't the child support that I am paying her go directly to the college for the 9 mos that the child is at school and not living with the mother and then to the mother directly when the child is home from school? I earn a modest living. Modest being after child support & taxes and before paying any bills I earn approximately 25K. Any help with this is appreciated. First off, I think i'm just frustrated at this whole thing. Before this child, I was married at one time and had two children from that marriage. I did not pay toward their college expenses either. I could not afford it! It is not like I chose to pay for the other two and not this childs. Can you imagine taking an additional 5-7K from the 25K that I am left with to pay bills; what that will do to me? How is a person suppose to live? It would have been nice for the child's mother to ask me up front what I could afford to contribute before going off and picking a college they could not afford. That is usually what parents who are married do when they have a child going to college...what gets picked is what they can afford to pay. If they can't afford to send their child to college they don't get sued by the child to force them to pay. Why wasn't a less expensive state school not picked? If I made 100-200K per year, I could see paying what they are requesting. Also, there was never anything in writing so it is not like I am going back on my word here. I apologize if I sound like I am jumping on you about this. I do appreciate your perspective since you are on the other side of the table. p.s. Was the choice of college(s) discussed with the father of your son before the decision was made? Or..was the percentage he would be contributing put in writing ahead of time? Your reply is appreciated.

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