Can I Get a Reduction in My Child Support Obligations While My Child’s in College?


Many noncustodial parents wonder whether they can get a break in support payments when their child is away at college. The logic behind this request is that part of what the parent is paying in college expenses is for room and board, which the custodial parent is not providing for perhaps nine months of the year.  However, courts have rarely been willing to allow a reduction in child support payments during a child’s college years, and here’s why.

Think of all the expenses that child support is supposed to cover:

  • Residential upkeep
  • Meals at home
  • Child’s allowance
  • Clothing
  • Incidental expenses

The only one of these categories that’s going to see any savings is meals. The cost of maintaining the child’s residence is the same whether the child lives there or not. The custodial parent could also argue that the child needs more spending money and more new clothes while away at college, so the meager savings on food must go to other necessities.

That said, appeals courts in New York have ruled that where a couple had an agreement about payment for college expenses, a noncustodial parent was entitled to a reduction in child support while paying for college.  So the law in this area is not nearly as clear as it could be.

It’s also worth noting that even though New York law terminates child support obligations when the child turns 21, courts have extended those obligations under certain circumstances to college students 22 years of age.

Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. provides reliable advice on all aspects of child support law. As Long Island’s largest and busiest divorce and family law firm, we fight aggressively for parental rights.

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