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Child Support, College and Kentucky - Are There Obligations?

In a number of states, there are significant battles over the continuation of child support and expense obligations through the college years of a child that has achieved the age of majority. Some of those battles are legislative, inasmuch as advocates are trying to get such a requirement installed; in some jurisdictions, those statutes are being challenged. I've run across this issue from time to time over the years, sometimes in the course of enforcement, sometimes with parents who ask the question at the onset of proceedings. Inevitably, I advise people to decline to put college expenses into a Marital Settlement Agreement.

While Kentucky law clearly does not require such payment outside of a specific agreement to do so, I can see many circumstances where potential enforcement could arise if a family law action took place initially in a state where college expenses are awarded or (in a nightmare scenario of conflicts of law questions) a support case arises in a jurisdiction where college expenses are routinely awarded.

Frankly, my professional opinion is that Kentucky is correct on the subject of child support through college - like the author of the article linked above, I have serious legal objections to the notion that a divorced parent has a differing set of obligations on paying the college expenses of an adult offspring than a married parent does; as a married father, I am free to decline to pay if I wish, for any reason whatsoever. Approaching the subject on an even more practical level, there appears to be an absence of consideration by awarding jurisdictions of very real objections that a paying parent may have to a chosen field of study, the cost of that course of study, the basic conduct of the beneficiary of the funds, and whether the funds are even designed to reach the recipient (in some states, they simply go to the other parent). This sort of awarding regime deprives the paying parent of agency, often at a time when that parent's earning power is diminishing as the natural byproduct of age; further, as the author of the linked article laments, too many courts are all too generous in awarding college expenses and brushing aside objections and defenses.

This is going to be a major pitfall for lawyers and divorcing parties for years to come, and will only increase in intensity, and it will take quite a bit of skill to navigate through the potential issues.