Continuing child support when kids go to college

18 is an important age for many in Jackson County. That often is the year that people graduate from high school and begin to face important decision related to their futures. Coincidentally, that also happens to be when parents paying child support believe that their children have reached the age of majority (which they then assume ends their child support obligations). Yet what happens when an 18-year-old decides to go to college? Given that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as recently as 2017, 66.7 high school graduates in the U.S. were enrolled in college, this is likely a question that many divorced parents will have to face.

The term “starving student” can often be applied literally. In most cases, teens and young adults attending colleges and universities are forced to focus a majority of their time and effort on their studies (thus limiting their opportunities to work to support themselves). This leaves them needing financial assistance to help pay for tuition, books and the costs of living. Because of this, Missouri state law allows for a child support obligation to be extended to accommodate college students.

Section 452.340-5 of the state’s Domestic Relations Code says that in cases where a child who is 18 years old and enrolled in an institution of vocational or higher education by October of the same year in which they complete high school (or achieve a graduation equivalence degree), a parent is required to continue to pay child support provided that the child maintains as course load of at least 12 credit hours every semester and earns in passing grades in at least half off their classes. Students who work over 15 hours per week are only required to take nine credit hours worth of classes in order for this statute to apply to their cases.

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