Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

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Latest post Tue, Jan 3 2017 1:14 PM by Jsin70. 75 replies.
  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 8:25 AM

    • Jsin70
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    Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Dear message board,

    I am the non-custodial parent dad from Massachusetts. I have a child entering college next year.  I currently pay so much per year in child support.

    Depending on the college and the cost of the college, my child support might be reduced to zero in lieu of the amount I will pay toward her college.  Can I just leave what I pay for child support as is while she is in college for my ex to use for the college contribution?  If so, is there a risk to doing this and my ex comes back later and says you also owe me college contribution? 

    Or do we legally have to terminate child support now and finalize four years of college contributions? Can we both sign a joint agreement saying I will be paying this much toward college for the next four years so we both agree child support will cease upon college entry? 

    I am not sure how we go about this if we mutually agree on an annual amount I will pay regardless of whether we classify it as child support or college?  I hope I am making sense! For example, if child picks a really cheap local college, I will pay current child support plus college, but if child picks a college that is out of state really expensive, we both agree that child support will end and I pay total amount of x toward college.  How do we legally handle this though and what is really necessary?  I know if you don't handle things correctly legally and in filed documents it can come back to haunt you!

    In the past, we have agreed to child support increases through mediation and just signed an agreement and filed it.  We have not needed to go to court and I don't think we will have to for this either.  I think we will come to a joint agreement on how much I will pay per year.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

     

     

     

  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 9:05 AM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    MA has some rather unusual rules as to paying for college ....and it tends to be child support plus college......pegged to an in state  benchmark....do a lot more homework before you jump to home brew "answers

     

    BTW college financial aid under FAFSA methodology is pegged to the custodial parent's finances ....

     

     



  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 10:56 AM In reply to

    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Jsin70:
    Depending on the college and the cost of the college, my child support might be reduced to zero in lieu of the amount I will pay toward her college.

    Are you saying that you think the court will reduce your child support obligation because you pay some amount of money toward her college education?  If so, why do you think that?

     

    Jsin70:
    Can I just leave what I pay for child support as is while she is in college for my ex to use for the college contribution?  If so, is there a risk to doing this and my ex comes back later and says you also owe me college contribution?

    You're obligated to pay whatever amount for child support that the existing child support order requires you to pay, and you must continue paying it for as long as the order specifies or as provided by Massachusetts law, until and unless the court modifies the order.  If you pay less, you will be subject to being held in contempt for violating the order.  The same goes for college expenses, and you're not obligated to pay anything unless the court has ordered you to do so.

     

    Jsin70:
    Or do we legally have to terminate child support now and finalize four years of college contributions? Can we both sign a joint agreement saying I will be paying this much toward college for the next four years so we both agree child support will cease upon college entry?

    You cannot modify your child support order without the court's approval.  If you agree to a modification, you can present it to the court and ask the court to sign off on it.  If you've agreed to modifications in the past, then you should be able to follow the same procedures.

  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 11:27 AM In reply to

    • Jsin70
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Thanks yes I have heard that about Massachusetts but the new guidelines in 2013 and confirmed my attorney, is it depends on the cost of the college the child chooses, the child support can be drastically reduced or eliminated.  I have actually pasted the language below.

    In Massachusetts, the new child support guidelines state the In establishing support orders for children over age 18, to the extent permitted by law, the Court shall exercise its discretion in ordering support and/or college contribution. The Court shall consider 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 post-secondary education for the child, the availability of financial aid and the allocation of those costs, if any,between the parents. Contribution to college costs is not presumptive, but is based upon the above
    factors. If a specific college contribution is ordered, this contribution shall be considered by the Court in setting the weekly support order, if any.

    One thing I am familar with is the courts prefer the parents come to a mutual agreement together not what the guidelines say as long as it is not too far off and I am stating I believe we will come to a joint agreement.  I just don't know how to handle the documents we draft on our joint legal agreement that we agree to. 

    For example child support is $15K per year and half of a state tuition is $15K per year, then total per year is $30K. If ex wife, says child wants to go to a 60K per year college, so just give me $30K per year toward it and forget child support and that is what I agree to. (combine the child support and college together), do i have to change the child support documents to reflect this? My child is looking at 60K per year colleges not in state benchmark costs.  Not that I agreed to that as I did not. Child actually refused to look at any in state public colleges even though our Divorce agrements state both parties have to "agree on a mutually affordable college". 

    Or do I just continuing paying $15K per year toward child support and then give her the extra $15K toward college?

    I think this is vague as what I may consider not affordable my ex might consider affordable.  I certainly don't think 60K is affordable...

     

  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 12:05 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Sorry I was out of date ...apparently some better newer guidelines in MA ..... I think you and other parent need to sort thru what you jointly will put in college pot ....and child needs to focus on colleges within that cost range ..plus of course whatever grant and loan aid they might get. 

    One of my single mother friends just got about 98% of a full free ride at an Ivy for her child .....do not assume sticker is final number ....nor that it's up to you to pay 1/2 of full retail  And some of the Ivy's have made it darn affordable for limit ed income parents .

    I  think your child has a lousy attitude ...be careful!...something does not add up......

    Around me a youngster can get a darn good cost effective first two years at a community college and with an articulation agreement, move on to a name university for next two years . 

     

     

     



  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 12:30 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    U Mass is a well ranked national university....and in state costs BEFORE any aid are a good bit below $30000 per academic year inc room and board ..... .

     

    OF no legal weight, personally I would crunch thru one of the on line expected parent contribution models based on FAFSA and use the correct custodial parent data .....let's say a few iterations of the model suggest EPC of $16,000...... and the ratio of  custodial parents counted income is 40 v 60 of non custodial parents counted income ...one logical economic view is that NCP offers 60% of 16,000 ....



  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 12:31 PM In reply to

    • Jsin70
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Yes, I agree.  I asked my child and mother to also apply to some affordable in state collegs as well as her other reach schools since we don't know what her award packages will be.  They both refused and only applied to out of state very expensive colleges and did not even include me in the decision or process before applying.

    I only found out when I called the guidance counselor and she gave me the parent online access to the college portal.  What do the courts do then?  Will they still award toward an in state benchmark?

    I find it very unfair how left out of the process I am but still expected to pay up. Plus I am remarried with three other kids, (two step kids and one other biological) not that that matters..  She only has the one, my first child.

    I was trying to avoid lawyers fees, but I guess you are saying be careful, if I make an agreement to pay toward college and eliminate child support, and we file it in court, they might not even accept it?  Does this mean it is better to have a lawyer and mediate or actually just go to court?  Wanted to put the attorney fees toward child college not legal fees..

  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 12:56 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    laymans guess :   NCPs  finance picture is not the issue under FAFSA last I played with the numbers and rules ..

    what is Moms finance picture and what do models suggest as EPC ?  ( Is mom remarried...new hubby figures into FAFSA ) 

    You may be better off with total non cooperation from CP than with fake cooperation..but I suspect courts will not strand a child because parents failed to cooperate ....and she only got accepted at high cost art college u w  token aid . 

     

     



  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 1:01 PM In reply to

    • Jsin70
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    So, this is my first child entering college, so I am not sure how to figure out what she can afford.  In any event, she is not remarried.  She has a decent job though but under 100K.  So, if I try to calculate her EPC and it comes out much lower than the cost of the college, the school will make up the difference?  But with what?  Loans that my child has to pay back or grants that they don't? Not sure where I go to come up with this figure...

  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 1:05 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Generally speaking parents have no legal duty to send junior to college ....and to impose that duty upon some parents just because they got divorced has been attack in some states ...mine, PA says no....some like NJ say yes ...MA was yes, perhaps they backed off so it's not presumptive ...beyond me ...and somewhat new in MA 

    Odds are MA still bends in favor of child getting post secondary education 

     

    To me it's telling that per your version, she applied to no instate schools !

    JUst what super special program does she seek that U Mass doesn't have one like it ...or another of Mass'  fine institutions ? 

    SOmething else is afoot ! 

     

     

     



  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 1:21 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    I have no doubt that is CP has modest income and modest counted assets that EPC will be below 60 K 

    A school which is needs met generally uses the EPC as what the parent pays ..and the rest is some mix of grants and loans  ( Private schools can make up own rules ..some are even more liberal with aid  ..so be it )  

     



  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 1:43 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    IF moms agi is about 80k the model is likely to show EPC in 12k range ....not much more if you crank in a 5 person household and a 100K agi  and 1 in college . 

    Again very sloppy , if EPC is 12K....and your  EPC is say 15 ...but not factored in FAFSA, then a tad over 1/2 of 12 seems like a line in the sand to me ? 

     



  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 1:48 PM In reply to

    • Jsin70
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Thanks for this info.  Child said she wanted out of state because she wanted to experience life differently in a different state.  Hard what I can make her do when we are divorced.  Does the EFC calculation for mom factor in my child support?  Wonder how that works....

  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 2:11 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    AS fas as I know ...rather rusty....both child support and alimony get added back into CPs ability to pay under FAFSA .....simple and complex models  as well as rules and info are on line ....do some homework 

    Baloney!! 20 miles down the road and not living at home is a whole new world and a big campus is full of whole new stuff and people 

    IF she wants a whole different experience...enlist ! 



  • Tue, Nov 29 2016 2:22 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    MA definitions of income for CS purposes are not the same as federal definitions re FAFSA ....but apparently per your earlier posts Mom has a hefty amount of perquisite income in form of free tuition at private school she forgot to address?

     And perhaps in that elite environment some lousy attitudes rubbed off?  SHe hated the school per your earlier words? 

    BTW just what kind of academic record does this girl have ...what is her class standing /rank? 

     

     



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