child support for college

Can Child Support Continue Past 18?

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With the growing cost of college, the thought of financial support suddenly disappearing after a divorce can be daunting. The is some potentially good news. The courts often order child support to continue past the age of 18 to help supplement post-secondary education. You must, however, actually have a “child attending school.”

Can My Child Receive Support After They Turn 18?

Child support generally ends once a child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever comes later. At this point, the government sees them as a legal adult.

Yet realistically for many parents, the cost of supporting a child after they turn 18 continues as they pack up and head to college or another form of continuing education. The costs include tuition, books, and housing.

What is a “Child Attending School”?

In Oregon, post-secondary support for a “child attending school” covers various endeavors. This includes GEDs, four-year universities, community colleges, trade schools, and vocational schools.

The laws for post-secondary support vary from state to state. For instance, in Washington, the age of post-secondary support can extend to the age of 23. Alaska, however, prohibits judges from imposing any continuing educational support.

If you live in Oregon, support for a child attending school is required unless otherwise negotiated.

The court can order a parent to pay child support or to continue the support obligation until that child is 21 years old. Once the child turns 21, regardless if they remain in school, they are no longer eligible for support. (That doesn’t mean you can’t offer them support, but from a legal standpoint, you’re no longer obligated.)

Related Reading: Common Child Support Questions Answered

Requirements for a Child Attending School?

Oregon has explicit guidelines to meet for a child attending school to qualify for and receive continued support. In order to be eligible:

  • The Oregon Child Support Program and the parent making payments must be notified of the intent to continue education before the child’s 18th birthday.
  • The child can’t be married or emancipated.
  • The child can’t be an active member of the military.

The aforementioned are the main takeaways of the Oregon State requirements of eligibility. For more details, ORS 107. 108 outlines all the guidelines you must follow.

Related Reading: What Happens After the Court Appoints a Guardian Ad Litem?

Oregon Youth Authority

If the child is a part of the Oregon Youth Authority, any and all reporting duties of the child attending school will be made by the OYA.

All payments will be distributed and dispersed by the Department of Justice and given directly to the child. Good cause must be presented to the court to have financial support distributed differently.

Related Reading: Common Child Support Questions Answered

Can You Modify the Existing Child Support Plan?

When first creating a child support plan, parents often settle and agree on how much to set aside and divide financial responsibility amongst themselves. If one or both parties want to make modifications, you can amend the agreement as circumstances change.

However, almost all alterations require judicial approval.

As stated, in Oregon, support for a child attending school is mandatory unless otherwise negotiated.

In the instance that either one or both parents want to change the support order, the court makes these amendments.

Only a significant change in circumstance prompts a judge to allow modifications to the support order. Often this proves difficult to demonstrate.

You must show:

  • Physical custody of the child has changed.
  • Needs of the child have changed.
  • Number of children involved has changed.
  • Income of one or both parents has significantly changed.

If the court orders modifications, it divides the payments between parents much like traditional child support. Once the amount is settled, the support payments are made directly to the child or, in some rare cases, directly to the school.

Related Reading: Child Support Modification: What You Need to Know

What If My Child Quits School?

Support for a child attending school is only required if certain criteria are met and maintained. If the child quits school or no longer meets the requirements, the court no longer requires support. Actually attending school is, obviously, a key component, but there’s also more.

For the financial obligation to continue, the child must:

  • Enroll in an accredited institution and actively pursue their career goals.
  • Remain in good academic standing, as detailed by the definition of the school.
  • Provide both parents full access to all academic records and grades.
  • Have a course load deemed no less than one-half of what the school determines to be full-time enrollment.
  • The period of time between graduation or completion of school and the beginning of the next scheduled term, semester, or course does not exceed four months.
  • No additional breaks have been taken other than those scheduled by the school.

Related Reading: Jurisdiction: Why Where You File Your Case Matters

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