Terminating Child Support While Your Child Is Away at College
Except in certain limited circumstances, terminating child support in Virginia happens automatically once your child turns 18. You have no legal obligations to pay for your child’s college expenses. However, that doesn’t mean you and the other parent can’t agree to continue supporting your child after they reach the age of majority.
When Must You Continue To Pay Child Support in Virginia?
Under Virginia state law, you may have to continue paying child support after your child turns 18 if they:
- Are you a full-time high school student
- Can’t financially support themselves
- Live with the custodial parent
- Require support for a mental or physical disability
As you can see, attending college isn’t on the list. Virginia law doesn’t obligate you as a parent to pay for your child’s college education. That means a family court can’t make such an order, either.
Agreements Between Parents Regarding College Expenses
You and the other parent can agree to pay for your child’s university education in a written agreement, even though state law has no such provision. You can incorporate this provision in the separation or custody agreement or a separate agreement you sign closer to when your child will attend college.
The main benefit of these agreements is that you won’t have to worry about the other parent terminating child support once your child turns 18.
However, there is a caveat: You must also pay your share of the college cost. That may be an issue if your financial situation takes a turn for the worse in the future, which isn’t something you can predict.
One way to get around this problem is to include explicit provisions that limit your financial responsibility. For instance, you could only agree to pay a fixed percentage of the annual tuition fee at a public, state-run university in Virginia. You could also limit the types of expenses you’ll be required to pay, such as tuition fees and travel expenses but not room and board.
Alternatives to Written Agreements
If you or the other parent are unsure about entering into a legally binding contract, you don’t have to sign one.
Many parents continue supporting their children who attend college without being obligated to do so. Maintaining a robust co-parenting partnership and a strong and loving relationship with the child is often enough for the non-custodial parent to continue paying child support.
If neither you nor the other parent can afford to support your child after they turn 18, you may want to consider alternative financing options such as scholarships or student loans.
Is Your Child Turning 18? Call Your Local Virginia Family Law Attorneys
Do you want to ensure your child will have the support they need after turning 18? Call 888-530-4374 today to schedule a consultation with the family law attorneys at DiPietro Law Group, PLLC, and discuss alternatives to terminating child support. The firm leverages over six decades of combined experience to give your case a top priority.