Child Support and College Obligations

Child Support and College Obligations

Child support is one prominent bone of contention among divorced couples. While all parents are to provide financially for their children, parents are also aware that child support payments will eventually end. However, when exactly does this obligation end? Are non-custodial parents liable for their adult children’s college tuition and other expenses?

In this article, we’ll address the issue of child support as it relates to a parent’s college obligations. The truth is that not knowing what your legal responsibilities towards your child are can be frustrating, especially if you’re the parent paying support.

Generally, child support payments end when a child reaches the age of maturity. However, this age differs by state. It could be 18, 19, or 21, depending on where you reside. In many states, college expenses are conditional expenses. Therefore, parents are not required to pay college fees but can do so by choice.

However, it’s not uncommon for some states to order parents to pay for their children’s college expenses. The reason may be so that the child’s education doesn’t suffer due to the divorce. Therefore, the obligation to pay college expenses depends on state laws and a case-by-case basis. It’s advisable to discuss your case with child support lawyers in Media PA.

Factors a Court Looks at When Considering College Obligations

As stated earlier, some courts might order parents to make college payments for their adult children, irrespective of the state laws. These college expenses typically include tuition, room, board, transportation, books, medical fees, and general living expenses.

However, before judges grant college expenses as part of a parent’s child support obligations, here are some factors they consider:

  • The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the divorce didn’t occur
  • The financial resources of both parents
  • The child’s financial resources (including the availability of financial aids and scholarships)
  • The child’s academic performance, whether he/she was going to go to college anyway

How Much Support Will a Parent Pay?

When a court orders college expenses as part of a parent’s obligation, child support payments typically continue until they earn a degree. The exact amount awarded will depend on the court’s discretion based on the factors considered.

However, the amount of support a parent pays when a child is attending college might reduce if they live in the school. The reason is that college costs include room and board, and the custodial parent won’t be incurring those expenses.

Also, if the child is eligible for financial aid, loans, or any other scholarships, it can reduce college costs. Consider consulting with some of the best child support lawyers in Media, PA, to get an estimate of your obligations.


A Pennsylvania parents’ obligation typically ends when the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever comes first. However, since every family case is unique, it’s best to discuss your situation with child support lawyers in Media, PA.

An attorney can help you understand whether you may have to contribute to your child’s college expenses. He/she can also pursue a favorable arrangement on your behalf.