The standard child support order in Connecticut lasts until the child reaches the age of majority, 18 years old. However, under a law passed in 2002, Connecticut courts can order one or both divorcing parents (or a father subject to a paternity action) to pay support for accredited college or vocational programs, until the child reaches age 23. The factors the court uses to decide if educational support is appropriate include:
- The parents’ income, assets and other obligations
- The child’s need for support to attend school, taking into account the child’s own assets and earning capacity
- The availability of financial aid from other sources, including grants and loans
- The reasonableness of the higher education to be funded, considering the child’s academic record and the financial resources available
- The likelihood that the parents would have provided support to the child for higher education if the family were intact
- The child’s preparation for, aptitude for and commitment to higher education
- Any evidence about the school the child would attend
Though obviously well intended, the law has faced criticism because it seems to create a right for children of divorce that does not exist for children of intact families. The text of the law specifically says it “does not create a right of action by a child for parental support for higher education,” and the court can only order educational support if one of the parents requests it. Still, a parent within an intact family cannot petition the court to order the other parent to pay a child’s college expenses. Spending on higher education remains the parent’s prerogative.
If you have questions about child support in Connecticut, Flaherty Legal Group in West Hartford is ready to assist you. Contact Attorney James Flaherty, Attorney Sandi Girolamo or Attorney Pamela Magnano for legal counsel pertaining to child support and family law.