As most parents are aware today, just because a child turns 18, does not mean that they are economically self-sufficient. This issue has come up lately in several of my divorce cases.
In Connecticut, the age of majority is 18. What this means in that when a child turns 18, the law in Connecticut is that they no longer require support from parents. This law runs counter to what most parents anticipate and expect. However, after divorce, neither parent can be required to pay any expenses for those “adult” children.
The exception to this rule is that if the court finds that the parents would have paid for college if they had not divorced, then the court can order the parents to pay for college (room, board and tuition, medical insurance and some ancillary expenses such as books, lab fees etc.) Those expenses are capped at the amount currently in effect at the University of Connecticut for four years.
The expenses incurred for clothing, food and shelter when college is not in session and the myriad of other support expenses which seem to surround those children are simply not the parents’ responsibility and neither parent is required to pay them. What this means is that there can be no order for support that includes those expenses.
In fact, the evidence that a parent might seek to present to the court regarding the payment of those expenses will not be admitted into evidence and the Judge will not be able to consider them in making an award for support. However, if a college student lives in the home of one of the parents, then the other parent may be ordered to contribute, but only limited to the rate of room and board and the University of Connecticut which is currently $11,722 per year.
Although this may seem out of step with the current reality, it is the law in Connecticut.
I refer readers to the legal cases relevant to this article and am citing those cases as follows:
- Alianiello v. Alianiello, FA010383698S (November 19, 2013): An educational support order cannot be imposed retroactively.
- Hopfer v. Hopfer: Evidence of payment for postmajority (18) expenses cannot be admitted into evidence in court.
- Legg v. Legg, 44 Conn. App. 303 (Conn. App.) 1997: Parent supporting child living at home during college is entitled to contribution from other parent for the equivalent of room and board at UCONN.
- Loughlin v. Loughlin: In rendering an order for alimony, the court may not consider the presence of adult age children in the home.
- Cariseo v. Cariseo, 190 Conn. 141 (Conn. Supreme) 1983: College age child living at home cannot constitute a substantial change of circumstances allowing for the modification of a support order.
For more information on Connecticut expenses for children over 18, contact a knowledgeable attorney at Greenberg & Krieger LLP. Call 203-588-9565 for a complementary initial consultation today.