Divorce is complicated – no matter the circumstances. When kids are involved in a separation, divorce only becomes that much more complex. There’s finding sensitive ways to discuss separation with your children, navigating health care and education decisions together, and custody agreements. And there are also child support payments.

Whether a parent is paying support, or receiving it, it’s a hard process to navigate. Most parents assume that child support payments only last until a child is off to college – in reality, that’s hardly the case. Why not? In Massachusetts, child support ends upon a child reaching “emancipation” which may be any time between 18 and 23 years old.  When a child is going into college, child support can be ordered over and above costs attributed to each parent for educational costs, including tuition, textbooks, extracurriculars, or supplies.  Pursuant to the Child Support Guidelines, a parent may be obligated to contribute as much as 50% of the cost for in-state tuition at UMass Amherst for a child’s college education.

Be aware, however, that the Guidelines may reduce the child support order once a child turns 18 to account for the fact that the child, though still financially dependent on their parents, is no longer residing at home full time.

If you’re confused by child support guidelines, especially after a child turns 18, give one of our family law attorneys a call or email. We’ll talk you through the process and explain the laws and your rights. Child support doesn’t end just because a child turns 18 – and you or your ex-spouse should be prepared with that knowledge.

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