Ask A Divorce Lawyer: Am I legally bound to pay for my son’s college expenses?

Question: 

I got divorced in New York in 1994. The stipulation of the settlement emancipates me when my son is 18. In return, I must pay all college costs.

My son has a severe case of parental alienation syndrome (PAS). In other words, he has relentless and irrational hatred towards me. He’s 20 years old and entered college 2 years ago. I offered to pay as per the court order in the divorce but he would not even speak to me.

His mother had him apply for college aid (state and federal) while at the same time extorting me for $800/month for child support since I did not pay for college (not my choice). I have no idea where this money goes. He nor his mother will provide any accounting for his college costs. No receipts, nothing.

What am I legally bound to pay in this case?

 

 

 

Answer:
You need to consult an attorney in your jurisdiction as support guidelines vary from state to state.  Was the $800/month the original child support order or did you go back to Court and were ordered to pay $800 a month as and for college expenses?  You are legally bound to pay only what the Court has ordered you to pay.  If the Court ordered you to continue to pay $800 per month in child support until he graduates college, then that is what you pay.  However, if the Court Order is to pay for college, then you would need to review your Order to review what this means.  How long can your son be in college?  Does the Order only cover a bachelors or associates degree?  Does it cover only tuition or the expected cost of attendance?  The answers to these questions are very important.  You need to contact an attorney licensed in New York immediately.  Be sure to bring copies of your Orders with you.

 

 

Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.

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