Most divorcing parents understand that they’ll be required to financially support their children until they become legal adults. Our Connecticut divorce attorneys can discuss the additional obligations you’re likely to incur beyond childhood if your child chooses to attend college.
Connecticut Courts Can Order Divorced Parents to Contribute to College Costs
Roughly 20 years ago, the Connecticut Legislature enacted a statute allowing state court judges to order divorced or divorcing parents to pay at least a portion of their children’s college expenses.
Parents do have the option of reaching an agreement on their own, and many are able to do so. However, when this is not possible, a Connecticut court can order both parents to make a combined contribution up to the cost of tuition, room, and board at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, the main UCONN campus for each child attending college.
If your kids were already in college or in high school and planning to attend college when you entered divorce proceedings, the issue will likely be decided during those proceedings. However, if younger children are involved, the matter can be addressed once they’re in high school and preparing for college.
How Do Connecticut Courts Determine Parents’ Contributions?
UCONN Storrs – where the current total cost of tuition, room, and board is roughly $35,000 – represents the statutory maximum contribution. If a child chooses to attend another university – including one far more expensive, such as Yale – their parents’ combined contribution still cannot exceed the annual cost of attending UCONN Storr.
Parents are also not required to contribute the combined maximum, nor is each parent’s share required to be equal. Instead, the judge will consider several factors, including any monies held in the child’s savings account, the existence of a 529 College Saving Plan, and the parents’ individual financial circumstances, to determine the appropriate combined contribution and each parent’s share. Hypothetically, it’s entirely possible that one parent will be ordered to contribute $10,000 to their child’s annual college expenses while the other will be ordered to pay just $5,000.
Generally speaking, in a divorce settlement, parents will agree to utilize any existing college funds to pay for their children’s higher education. If the parents cannot agree on remaining college costs once those funds are depleted, the court can be called upon to resolve the matter in accordance with Connecticut law.
What if Parents Can’t Agree on the Choice of College?
Most of the time, parents – divorced or otherwise – agree on the choice of college and make a final decision together based on their child’s preference and input.
However, in the rare event that divorced parents are unable to do so, the courts can be asked to intervene. In such a case, the judge may appoint an attorney – paid for by the parents – to represent the minor’s interests and advise the court regarding the child’s preferred school.
If the child is doing well and appears to have a good head on their shoulders, most judges will issue an order that aligns with those wishes.
How Does Connecticut Treat Child Support When Kids Attend College?
Unlike its neighbor New York, which has established rules permitting child support awards for children attending college full-time, child support in Connecticut ends when kids turn 18 and graduate from high school, or when they reach the age of 19, even if they’re still in high school.
Because Connecticut also considers children emancipated once they reach the age of 18, all parenting agreements and custodial orders will also end when they become legal adults.
Contact an Experienced Connecticut Divorce Attorney
Divorce is never easy, especially when children are involved.
With so many complex legal issues to navigate, it’s essential to have strong legal representation on your side. Our experienced Connecticut divorce attorneys can help you make better-informed decisions for yourself and your family and ensure your interests are well-represented during settlement negotiations and in the courtroom.
Contact us today to schedule your consultation.