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Does child support extend to college tuition and expenses?

Many Maryland parents count down the days until their child turns 18 and legally becomes an adult - especially non-custodial parents who are paying child support. These parents may wrongfully assume that their responsibility ends at age 18, but in reality they may be paying child support for at least another four years. Why? Because some states mandate that parents pay for their child's college tuition and expenses. Although Maryland is not one of those states, you might still be on the hook for your son's or daughter's college tuition.

Future college expenses are often discussed during the divorce process. The details are ironed out to avoid a child support dispute later on down the road. But, if there is no agreement in place, then it may be up to the judge to determine what is fair for both parents as well as the child.

In general, the court believes that a child should not be denied the opportunity to attend college based on the fact that his or her parents are divorced. In fact, children of divorce are often looked at as disadvantaged when compared to children whose parents are married. Therefore, a judge may look at the parents' financial situations, the standard of living the child enjoyed while the parents were married and the resources the child may have, such as scholarships and financial aid. The child's academic performance is also taken into consideration.

Not only would a parent have to pay for tuition, but also for books, room and board, transportation, medical expenses and everyday expenses as well. This can be a huge burden for a parent, so it's important for parents to understand their rights and responsibilities.

Source: FindLaw, "College Expenses and Child Support FAQ," accessed April 25, 2015

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