The new Child Support Guidelines (Guidelines) include a new section to deal exclusively with college or other post-secondary educational expenses.
While the Guidelines officially go into effect on September 15th, they are already being used by attorneys, mediators and others.
At the outset, the Guidelines remind litigants that the divorce judge has discretion to order or not order a parent to contribute to college costs. In other words, it is not a given that a parent will be ordered to pay for all or part of college expenses.
The real change to existing support procedures is two-fold. First, the Guidelines establish of a maximum contribution to which a parent can be subject. Second, should the court determine a parent has the ability to pay a higher amount, the court must enter written findings supporting the determination.
Specifically, the Guidelines say:
“No parent shall be ordered to pay an amount in excess of fifty percent of the undergraduate, in-state resident costs of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, unless the Court enters written findings that a parent has the ability to pay a higher amount.”
The new limit will not apply to children already enrolled in college.