Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

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Latest post Tue, Jan 3 2017 1:14 PM by Jsin70. 75 replies.
  • Thu, Dec 1 2016 10:33 AM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    I'll bet your attorney read last paragraph...

    In Mandel v. Mandel (2009), the Appeals Court articulated a long and detailed list of considerations in determining college expense contributions:

    In determining whether college expenses are reasonable, courts have appropriately considered “all relevant equitable factors.” Hamilton v. Pappalardo, 42 Mass. App. Ct. at 477. These factors include “the financial resources of both parents, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been dissolved, the financial resources of the child, … the cost of the school, the programs offered at the school, the child’s scholastic aptitude, how the school meets the child’s goals, and the benefits the child will receive from attending the school.” Schmidt v.Schmidt, 292 Ill. App. 3d 229, 237 (1997). See Hamilton v. Pappalardo, supra (factors to be considered include educational needs of child and financial circumstances of parents); Brooks v. Piela, 61 Mass. App. Ct. 731, 737 & n.8 (2004) (“[C]hildren’s needs are to be defined, at least in part, by their parents’ standard of living,” which in some cases “includes the ability to provide certain opportunities … such as private school education”); Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, principles par. 1 (2009) (encouraging “joint parental responsibility for child support in proportion to, or as a percentage of, income”).

    Also relevant to the inquiry is “the extent to which [a party] unjustifiably may have been excluded from the [college] decision-making process.” Hamilton v. Pappalardo, supra. Conversely, a party who has sat on his or her right to intervene, or to seek approval from the court when the parties disagree, until the college selection process has been completed, may have waived his or her right to object to the college and its concomitant cost.



  • Thu, Dec 1 2016 12:23 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child supportwo

    I would not rule out that Mom reads same stuff and may s trying to run clock/-application deadlines against you ...your attorney seems on right track ..i d be careful her words or lack of same are not being postured to mean there was a bona  ride disagreement...and you snoozed too long 

    I might review wth  counsel being a notch or two firmed about affordable colleges ( list some  )  with my capped total of everything child,support to mom of XX per month starting with month of enrollment and in form of orders..even to point of careful offer of $XX to mom valid for ZZ days then go to MA court .



  • Thu, Dec 1 2016 2:15 PM In reply to

    • Jsin70
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Well, you all are so smart because I am completely confused.  In any event, I picked one her of schools that is a public university out of state she is applyiing and they had a net price calculator to calculate what if any aid you would get.  It was similar to what FAFSA uses.  I estimated her after tax income (that is what it asked for) and I was conservative at 50K and it also asked that I add in the Child Support amount, so I added that in and the total came to 68K in income.  Picked all the other items, (i.e. how many in household, how many in college etc).  The school cost is estimated at 35K and the financial aid/grants was ZERO.  And her income after taxes could possibly be higher.. 

     

    I thought that was crazy...  Maybe every school is different? In any event, since that was the case, I am better off going after 1/3 capped to an in state tuition and hopefully some reduction of child support based on the child...

    Thoughts? I will try this with a few other colleges she picked as well and report back if the aid is any different.

  • Thu, Dec 1 2016 2:57 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    You have it backwards...the FAFSA formula is universal for public sector schools and those private schools that use it  and the bottom line number will be the expected  max contribution of the custodial parent and child ...

    IF the formula yields 35,000 that is the formula   different schools may chose to address aid differently ...and its well possible state schools favor instate applicants for better aid packages ....unless of course your daughter is 6'6"" and makes 3 pointers with ease ......



  • Thu, Dec 1 2016 3:05 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    I cranked your estimate of her numbers thru one model..came up with about 14,000 which is about where we were 10 posts ago.....l



  • Thu, Dec 1 2016 3:08 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Model probably uses AGI which is not same as after tax income ...it means adjusted gross income 



  • Thu, Dec 1 2016 3:19 PM In reply to

    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Drew:
    I disagree that MA court should view language in one of its own orders as moot

    What I meant to communicate was that if there is a general policy to cover all or most of a student's need with financial aid once that student has been admitted to the school, then all the schools might be equally affordable, more or less.

    Certainly until we see the financial aid package for a given college, we will have no clue how affordable that college will be.  Harvard could end up being more affordable than the state university.

    Drew:
    it is illogical to compute separate contributions by separate parent and add them together as definitive

    The financial-aid system generally seems to assume noncustodial parents will refuse to pay for their children's college expenses.  But OP's divorce agreement apparently requires both parents to contribute to this child's educational expenses.  So, especially if it turns out that colleges routinely fail to provide sufficient financial aid to cover students' calculated "need," a judge could certainly require the noncustodial parent to contribute what the system would calculate he (or she) can afford.  I'm only guessing, of course.

  • Thu, Dec 1 2016 6:46 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    I doubt that is an accurate historical perspective ....but moot as to OP either way.   Parents have no legal duty to pay for higher education....but a handful of states inc both MA and NJ imposed such a duty upon divorced  classes of parents...by class ...a test which flunked the courts in nearby PA......we prohibit such discriminatory burdens ....but MA is what  counts here 

    MA apparently has its own guidelines as to what gets factored into parental math . And allows for same ... MA has little to say about how ASU does it's math ....and the alternate name for FAFSA is Congressional Methodology ....Guess why?   Congress pretty much said count the CP not the NCP....and there are some other rule bound calls such as how to account for 529s and farms and investment property .... 

    Hey, if school offers a 100% loan package that's needs met, right ?  ( I've seen ones  close to that ....) 

    But Karen is right on one score ...if Dad  waits to see the Harvard aid offer and daughter picks ASU and no aid..MA courts may hold that Dad is too late to address things .....I've seen students turn down outstanding offers from great schools for much other reasons like new love life or party scene.  IN context of OPs post I'd suggest active work with paid  MA counsel to cap dads share at 1/3 of UMass ...and to integrate all his support elements with a cap based on his AGI less current support crunched thru FAFSA model as a tool, adjusted each year for actual numbers and facts  and payable to Mom direct ...or whatever best fits the MA legal climate....

     



  • Fri, Dec 2 2016 12:50 PM In reply to

    • Jsin70
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Okay, I have read all the latest posts.  And now I am concerned with this case law language (pasted below in bold)  and the responses to it. I am not sure how I address this before I know what the net price is of the college she wants to go to or see all the award notices of all her applications?  This won't happen until mid march / early April and she has to make a decision by May 1st if not earlier, to get housing.  How do I address this before with the court or my lawyer without the figures in front of us?  I guess we could go for 1/3 of in state tuition and a reduction of child support, but what if she gets SOOO much aid the cost comes out to even less of what I would pay for 1/3 of state tuition?  See the case law that was brought up below....  I guess we could make the language be the lesser capped at 1/3 of in state tuition or 1/3 of net price of college, which ever is the lowest? Not even sure how to address the child support piece of it, I guess maybe that is not as important as that is irelevant to college costs? One retired judge a few years back suggested reducing child support to the number of weeks she is home.  So, 12/52 weeks as a percentage of current support.

    ""Also relevant to the inquiry is "the extent to which [a party] unjustifiably may have been excluded from the [college] decision-making process." Hamilton v. Pappalardo, supra. Conversely, a party who has sat on his or her right to intervene, or to seek approval from the court when the parties disagree, until the college selection process has been completed, may have waived his or her right to object to the college and its concomitant cost."

    Thoughts?


  • Fri, Dec 2 2016 1:06 PM In reply to

    • Jsin70
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Also, to note, a few years ago when we were going through a child support modification, I tried to address college costs then and cap to in state tuition and she refused to discuss it.  I can't imagine she will agree to anything until she sees all award packages and acceptances letters and as I stated, that won't be until early April and she needs to decide quickly by May 1st... 

     

    We are both in two different states, I can't see how we can get that taken care of that fast... I can try to get her to agree now or have my lawyer send her a letter with our proposal but I know she will say, I need to wait to see all awards?  I guess we could then go to court now, but wont' a court want to know what the proposed costs of all the colleges are? Won't they want to wait to?

    Now, I really don't know what to do... My plan was to tell her what I was willing to pay, cap to 1/3 in state tuition and reduction of child support and if she does not agree, then I won't give my approval for her to select a college (requires a joint decision), and if she does, then I would think the court will only order 1/3 for me and reduction of child support because I tried and she was uncooperative?

  • Fri, Dec 2 2016 6:58 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    I sort of,get it, that it's hard to sort out the picture without actual numbers from the colleges...BUT that is not what the viewpoint of the court where this is likely to be heard germ...the language you quote suggests if youn are not an active participant you are deemed to have acquiesced to the choices made by mom/daughter ....and my lay unscientific guess is that courts will turn summersaults NOT to visit the sins of parental bickering or,failure to,cooperated on the hapless child  in need of,education.....hence you get stuck with the colleges on the plate...all of the high retail price  ...-and mom may find ways to,torpedo big aid packages if they are not big grant packages......and find reasons to hold,that your efforts to be nvolved were not  enough too little too late.  MOm will  dance you past the application deadline windows ...l

    Lay out some immediate hardball with your attorney to communicate  a clear position of what total support from your side you deem affordable...and a list of colleges that might be affordable depending on moms contribution and the child's own contribution via aid  or work ..and plan on taking it to court.... but if you plan on a social dance...mom may be glad to have you waste time in a dance.....obviously we are reading just one side of situation...but it reads to me that Mom is more clever to get her ways than you are.....

    The good news is that apparently MA gives weight to,a UMass cap and a 1/3 from you.......but so,far you seem light as showing  mom refused to  cooperate in context of order and that you took timely steps to get a cure in place ....

     

    Get your attorney I n gear...blow it,and you are in for 4-5'years of,moms,choice of,fancy school .

    NJ has at least 60 colleges....many darn good ones ...and many rather affordable ones ..

     

     



  • Fri, Dec 2 2016 7:15 PM In reply to

    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Jsin70:
    Now, I really don't know what to do..

    Sure you do and it didn't take 4 pages of babbling to get there either.  All the imaginary scenarios and fantasy expense numbers aside:  you either draw a line in the sand with your ex and the kid or forever be a door mat to their expectations.

    I would have my attorney send mom and kid a letter stating that the financial budget allows for $X amount of money (plus or minus child support) for the college expenses and you whole heartedly support her attending any of the fine state schools that have her major.  PERIOD.  If Mom and kid wish to wait to see what assistance she gets that is fine but I would still make it clear that joint approval is required for what school is paid for and you will not be approving out of state or private institutions at great and unnecessary expense.

    If the kid wants to "experience life in another state" [which is a load of crap by the way] then she can do it at her own expense.  How she got the idea that college is a lifestyle and she is entitled to live like the Kardashians at your expense isn't surprising.  I am certain Mom pumped that in to her.  You are not required to fulfill the fantasy and you can control whether you do or not.

     

    "That's just my opinion, then again I might be wrong."  Dennis Miller

     

  • Sat, Dec 3 2016 7:56 AM In reply to

    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Jsin70:
    we are required to agree on a "mutually affordable college". and that child will need to apply for fin aid, merit, etc as per the divorce agreement.

    The heart of the matter here is what a court is likely to consider "affordable".  Unfortunately, I have no real knowledge of that.  If I were a judge trying to interpret your divorce agreement, I would probably give a lot of weight to the financial-aid calculators' EFC results, calculated separately for each parent as though that parent were the custodial parent.  But I'm not a judge, much less one in the family court where your case would likely be heard (if it went before a judge).

    So it seems to me that a consultation with a good family-law attorney who practices in the court that has jurisdiction over your divorce case would be well worth the cost.

  • Sat, Dec 3 2016 8:33 AM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    I rather agree a line in sand was in need at least 4 pages ago....and seems OP has some relevant input from MA counsel as well.......if as OP you don't know how to draw line in sand...dust off your wallet and pay MA attorney skilled at this area of law to be your,spine..and draw some lines ..in a timely manner consistent with how winds are blowing in MA .....not NJ or wherever is on daughters fantisty list ....I suggest the line get communicated promptly so that delay is not postured as acquiesce to child's list . 



  • Sat, Dec 3 2016 11:49 AM In reply to

    • Jsin70
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    Re: Massachusetts College Costs and changing child support

    Thanks all and I apologize for such long message thread.  This has really helped me though.  So, per everyone responses and information I have for Massachusetts, this is what I am going to do.  Our divorce agreement first calls for us to go to mediation to attempt to resolve conflict and if unsuccessful only then can either party file for court action.  So, this is what I am going to do. 

    First, I am going to contact CP and attempt a discussion on what she feels is reasonable contribution for college and child support and attempt to come to an agreement and then have her put that in writing to me.  If that is unsuccesful, I will request mediation NOW to address college contributions and child support.  We have a mediatior we have used in the past that I am assuming would be fine by her to use again.  I won't wait until March/April time frame when she gets notifications and award packages as I see now that is too late...  

    Sound good?

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