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How does college affect child support?

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Can My Child Receive Support After They Turn 18?

Child support generally ends once a child turns 18 or graduates high school and is seen as an adult in the eyes of the law. Yet realistically for many parents the cost of supporting a child after they turn 18 continues as they pack up and head to college. The costs include tuition, books, and housing. It all stacks up.

With the growing cost of college, the thought of financial support suddenly disappearing can be daunting. The good news is child support often continues past the age of 18 to help supplement post-secondary education.

In Oregon, post-secondary support for a Child Attending School covers GED’s, four-year universities, community colleges, trade schools, and vocational schools.

Does My State Offer Support for Higher Education? 

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

If you live in Oregon, Child Attending School Support 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.  

Requirements for a Child Attending School?

Oregon has explicit guidelines to meet for a child attending school to 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.
  • The child can’t be emancipated.
  • The child can’t be actively serving in any branch 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 that must be followed.

Related Reading: Common Financial Mistakes in Divorce

What if I’m In the Care of 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.

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, the agreement can be amended as circumstances change, but almost all alterations require judicial approval.

In Oregon support for a child attending school is mandatory unless otherwise negotiated. In the instance that either one or both parents want to make changes to the support order, the court can make amendments. 

Only a significant change in circumstance prompts a judge to allow modifications to the support order. This includes:

  • 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 changed.

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

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.

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

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