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Can California child support last through the college years?

Successful couples often want to raise successful children. Parents with competitive income packages and stable lifestyles expect their children to achieve the same, if not better, when they enter the professional world.

One of the key components of a successful career is appropriate education. If a young adult hopes to become an accountant, an engineer or a physician, they may require a college degree and possibly even graduate school education. Parents often need to save aggressively to help cover college costs.

In a situation involving shared custody, can child support payments last through the college years to better support a child’s education?

Child support ends before college

The law in California creates certain financial and legal obligations for parents. For example, parents must meet the basic needs of their children, such as the need for food, clothing and housing, while they are minors. They have an obligation to provide financial support if they do not live with their children and meet their needs on a daily basis.

Child support orders in California typically last until a child turns 18 or graduates from high school. If an 18-year-old still has a semester left before they graduate when their birthday arrives, then child support may continue until they complete their secondary education.

California does not impose any financial obligation on parents during the college years. Therefore, child support orders typically end either when a young adult turns 18 or when they secure their diploma. Parents worried about the costs of higher education cannot rely on child support to help cover tuition and other expenses.

Parents can agree to share college costs

The good news for those concerned about how child support rules could affect their family during the college years is that while the courts can’t order college child support, the parents can agree to provide it.

It is common for those with college-bound children to discuss educational expenses as the parents negotiate custody and property division matters. Provided that the parents both agree that a college education is necessary for their children, they might reach an agreement in which both parents accept a degree of financial responsibility for college costs. Such arrangements can affect property division matters and other aspects of a divorce.

Parents can potentially set whatever terms they believe are appropriate given their values and the needs of their children. Learning about California’s unique rules for child support may be beneficial for those preparing for divorce or custody negotiations. A solid plan for college costs can prevent a divorce or break-up from derailing a child’s future.