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How is the child support amount determined for a child over 18 years old going to college in Massechusetts?

Tyngsboro, MA |

From the child support Guideline of MA, it says: In establishing support orders for children over age 18, to the extent permitted by law, the Court shall exercise its discretion considering the reason for the continued residence with and dependence on the
Recipient, the child’s academic circumstances, living situation, the available resources of the parents, the costs of postsecondary education for the child and the allocation of those costs between the parents, and the availability of financial aid. However, I was told the child support amount should follow the formula in the child support guideline. If the parents had set up an account which is enough to pay tuition and room and board with consideration of scholarship the child is getting, is it possible to reduce child support amount?

We didn't want to stop child support and will make sure the kid gets what he needs, but based on the formula, we feel the amount is overwelming esp. the new formula results in the more amount for 1 kid than what the child support amount for 2 kids (based on the old formula and the older one had just graduated). We wonder if the court would consider average expense for college kid to determine actual child support amount. The kid account was set up to pay college expenses before the divorce and it's in the kid's name. If there were no divorce, this account would be used for the kid's education. Why the non-custodial parent would be forced to pay a lot more based on the formula without consideration of the account? Is there any similar case that the child support amount is reduced from the calculation?

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Attorney answers 3


Yes. Child support for children over 18 and out of high school is up to the discretion of the judge. You should file for reduction/termination. good luck

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The amount of child support for children over the age of 18 is still based on the child support guidelines, however, when the child is 18 or older and is enrolled in school the court will inquire into the particular circumstances of your case and make a determination of whether or not deviation from the guidelines is warranted based on other contributions made on behalf of the child. Before you file a modification action you should look at your separation agreement and/or judgment and read any sections relating to child support and education expenses to make sure this scenario wasn't already addressed in the agreement.


In this instance, I would argue that the parent who has set-up this account would not be obligated to pay child support. However, your assertion regarding the "scholarship" is confusing and does not make any sense in context. However, the custodial parent could certainly make arguments that the child support should continue to be paid, as the custodial parent still must keep a place for the child to live during school vacations, etc. The final decision would be made by the trial judge, and said judge has an extreme amount of discretion in this instance.

You should retain an experienced Family Law attorney to assist you in this matter.

Good luck!



The college offer 10k scholarship each year toward the tuition. Taking this scholarship into consideration, the account has enough money to pay the rest of tuition and room and board for 4-year college. We didn't want to stop child support, but based on the formula, we need to pay almost $2000 for child support for 1 kid, which is a bit shocking. How many kids need to spend that much money each month given tuition and room and board is paid?

Anthony Rao

Anthony Rao


First, the guidelines are intended to suggest an appropriate child support amount when the parties' combined gross income is less than $250,000.00. Where the parties' combined gross income is more than $250,000.00 the presumptive support order is always set at the amount suggested if the parties' combined gross income is actually $250,000.00. Further, for children over the age of 18, many factors are considered by the court, including the assistance provided by the parties towards the costs of college. Indeed, technically speaking, the guidelines do not even apply to a child over the age of 18 and not in high school. However, as a practical matter, the court still uses the guidelines to determine what a reasonable amount of support should be. I believe in your circumstance because of the amount of money you have contributed, and under the totality of the circumstances, you should no longer be obligated to provide support. The caveat here is this is totally and solely in the discretion of the judge. I have seen instances where a support order was awarded in a similar circumstance. However, it is my opinion that based upon everything I know, that you should not be paying support anymore. You should see file a Complaint For Modification ASAP, and get this brought before the court. (I would expect this to be litigated vigorously as the custodial parent is looking at a huge loss of income).



Thank you. I totally agree "technically speaking, the guidelines do not even apply to a child over the age of 18 and not in high school". How come judge can still base on the guideline formula? On another (but related) subject, I don't see MA laws enforce married parents to pay college cost for their kids? Otherwise, maybe there would be no student loans?

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