Taking care of your children.

If you have children, child support and the children’s education are two major areas to be discussed with your attorney.

 Child Support and College Education.  Child support is paid only during the period that children are minors.  A child is no longer a minor upon the child’s eighteenth birthday or graduation from high school, whichever occurs later.  The law provides, however, that divorced parents may have a continuing financial obligation for the college education of their non-minor children.  This, of course, presumes that the child has the desire and intellectual ability to receive a college education.

The costs of post-high school education vary greatly.  The costs for a student for one year at a community college may be only several hundred dollars, but the cost for one year at a private school may be in the tens of thousands of dollars.  The court assesses each individual parent’s obligation to pay a child’s college expenses by considering the type of school that would have been chosen if the parents had not divorced, each parent’s present and future financial resources, the financial resources of the child, and the child’s academic performance.

In a marital settlement agreement, individuals may include specific provisions regarding their obligations for funding a child’s college education.  On the other hand, it may be premature to make such a commitment at that time and both parties may reserve the issue until a more suitable time in the future. If the parents cannot come to an agreement before the child enters college, either parent may petition the court, and the court will determine each parent’s obligation to pay for the child’s college education expenses.

Income tax consequences Under the Internal Revenue Code, the custodian of the children is entitled to take them as dependent exemptions unless the custodian agrees that the noncustodial parent may take the children as exemptions and agrees to sign an Internal Revenue form so stating.  Despite this provision, the judge presiding over your case may order that the noncustodial parent be permitted to claim the children as dependent exemptions without an agreement from the custodial parent.  This is especially common in cases in which the noncustodial parent is paying child support.

Child support is not taxable to the recipient, and it is not an income tax deduction for the parent making the payments.

Our next post will discuss highlights of how an efficient case process works in an ideal scenario presuming all parties provide the required information to bring closure or settlement.

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