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Why Not Force Parents To Support Kids 'Til The Kids Turn 40?!
Now, I think, if you decide to spawn, you owe your kid or kids the best life you can possibly provide them, and I think it's right for parents to pay for their kids' education, including college. But, that should be the parent's or parents' choice, not some state mandate.

There's a bill, passed by the Missouri state legislature, and awaiting the governor's signature, which says parents can stop paying child support at 21 instead of 22. And while that's an improvement, the age should be lowered to 18. Parents who are together aren't forced to pay for their adult children...why should divorced parents be forced to?

A divorce lawyer named Cynthia M. Fox writes in her column in the St. Charles Journal that parents paying child support should instead be on the hook until the kid's 23:

For family law attorneys, this episode will cause us to sharpen our pencils when crafting the parenting plans that we recommend to the court. We must sway judges to approve plans that obligate parents to pay their child's college expenses until the earlier of when the child graduates from college, completes eight semesters, or reaches age 23.

That's right, I said age 23. The current law, passed long before I began practicing law, didn't make a lot of sense given that so many kids reach age 22 part of the way through their last year in college.

Of course, not every lawyer will see it my way, particularly those representing a parent reluctant to pick up these costs. Such parents will insist their obligation not extend one day past the age mandated by law. And that, folks, will be the far-reaching impact of SB 25 if the governor doesn't it strike it down.

It will give many parents the permission to set age 21 as the cut-off date for paying for their child's college expenses. Does anyone know of a good three-year baccalaureate program out there?

Hey, Cynthia, why have parents quit paying for Junior when he's 23? Maybe you can mandate that parents have to give the kid a room over the garage and use of mom's car until he's 55? And a generous allowance, and regular deliveries of bottled Tibetan holy water for his bong?

via ifeminist

Posted by aalkon at June 24, 2007 3:14 PM


This is nothing but an attemot to enfoce a few more years of slavery out of fathers. Legally a parent is no longer responsible for a child at age 18.

If fahers are forced to pay "child support" for an additional 5yrs there is no legal obligtion by the mother to use that money to the benefit of her now adult child. Legaly once the kid is 18 the mother no longer has to pay - she can keep all 60 monthly payments for herself.

There are no laws requirind that the funds be turned over to the adult, adults school, or tuition - just to the mother, and after 18 she no longer has to pay.

Given how lax(non-exitant) the government is about forcing custodial parents to itemize how child support funds are spent they certianly arent going to dictate to a woman how she spends the money once the kids is over 18.

Posted by: lujlp at June 24, 2007 11:57 AM

It's really incredible that this applies ONLY to divorced parents (and usually divorced dads). Here's a link to which states allow or require this and which don't:

Again, nobody's forcing still-married parents to pay for their 19-year-old's college education. That's their choice to pay or not to pay. But, divorced daddy, once again, gets a special screwing. And yes, there are some divorced mothers to whom this applies...but it's mostly dads.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 24, 2007 12:17 PM

Regarding education expenses, I read a letter in the St. Pete Times regarding a possible suggestion. According to the writer, this is how they do it in France. Before entering high school, the students are required to take a test. If they don't pass, they go on to tradeschool. If they do pass, they proceed to highschool and higher education. Those students who are disruptive in the lower grades are moved to a boot-camp like setting. But all are allowed to take the test to gain admission to high school once they come of age.

I must admit the idea has its appeal.

But what does this have to do with the topic at hand? Well, public tradeschools would have the advantage of letting daddy off the hook. And you're right. College is not promised to any kid, whether his parents are married or not. I borrowed my tuition and I paid it off. So can these kids.

Posted by: Patrick at June 24, 2007 12:52 PM

Oh jeez, this is just a matter of defining a cutoff for childhood. For example, the National Institutes of Health defines anyone under age 21 as a child -- which is something I'm sort of grateful for, as a researcher, because it makes it easier to say a given study includes children (inclusiveness is good in research, because your findings apply to more people). Anyway, it's only 3 years, the difference between 18 and 21 (Lena can subtract!) Choose your battles wisely.

Posted by: Lena at June 24, 2007 3:10 PM

But, don't parents who are not divorced get to stop supporting kids at age 18, if they want?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 24, 2007 5:39 PM

It seems it's different in different states.

Not sure if this is outdated.

Nevertheless, whatever age married parents get to stop funding their kids, divorced parents should have that option, too.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 24, 2007 5:41 PM

During my divorce negotiations, the subject of college educations and who pays was discussed. The ex wanted the judge to mandate the terms which I thought was insane. My perspective was, kid plays by the rules and I’ll assist, kid goes nuts and you’re on your own.

So far, my clan has two undergrad and one grad degree and we’re two semesters away from undergrad number three.

I divorced the ex not my kids and I damned sure didn’t want some lawyer telling me how to parent my adult children.

Posted by: Roger at June 25, 2007 4:48 AM

Hi, y'all, I just got back from New Orleans! No computer access, just a whole lotta gumbo, hurricanes (the drink) and wandering around the French Quarter for a few days, it was nice!

I'm willing to support my children for as long as they need me to, with or without the ex's paltry $69/week, but I hope I'm being a good enough parent that I'm teaching them the joys of autonomy and that they'll want to be on their own when they're old enough. I read somewhere (escapes me just where at the moment, too many hurricanes!) about parents that were accompanying their (adult, college-graduate)children on job interviews and I thought to myself "that is just so WRONG, on so MANY levels!" I would like to think that my girls could handle themselves on a job interview without me being there to hold their hands and having to comfort them if the "bad man didn't give you a job!" Just too damn creepy, ya know?

Posted by: Flynne at June 25, 2007 8:09 AM

I think this brings up an excelent illustration between law and ethics. As a parent given the current ocupational climate in the US it's unethical to not help your child get a degree. Now would not be a really good time to use the GI bill to pay for college. If the child wants to go into the military then by all means let them, I just don't think it's wise for a parent not to give them any options. Should it be a legal requirement to pay for your kids college? No sure. However if everyone is not required to pay for college as parents I don't think it's right to make anyone pay for college as parents. Though personally I would have no problem paying for the kids college even if I got divorced. I do however thing alimony is crime.

Posted by: Vlad at June 25, 2007 9:09 AM

I hope this will remind all the guys out there to use a condom all the time! And from what I've read, bring your own to make sure they haven't been tampered with.

Posted by: Chrissy at June 25, 2007 11:54 AM

Not only is this outrageous, but many Custodial Parents believe it is "their" right to ask for this. Sadly, even without the college issue being brought in, non-divorced parents are allowed to determine until when they will financially support their children or not support them. If my child is 20 and still attending 11th grade, I can kick him out of the house and not give him another penny...unfortunately, once your parents are divorced, you have the option of staying in highschool through age 21 and still be supported by your non-custodial/child support paying parent...Your custodial parent is never required to financially support you.

In our case, the child is 12 and still in 5th grade...seems she'll be graduating close to the age of 18, my parents would've told me to get a job and pay for all my expenses if I wanted to continue attending high school...instead, we'll be supporting a lazy 20 year old in the hopes that she doesn't end up a lazy 21 year old still in high school...

Posted by: whatamess at June 25, 2007 8:49 PM

I'm NCP and live in Missouri, I'm so glad that SB25 passed and is now law. My son who is 20 and going to college has wanted nothing to do with me since the divorce. "Brainwashed by mommy" In our Decree it states that I'm to pay 33% of his college education" something I had to fight to get" providing he maintains at least a 2.0 GPA and provides each parent a copy of his grades and outline of courses and credit hours for the following semester. Here it is the end of March and I have yet to see his grades for last fall or a outline of corses for this current semester.
So I just filed a contempt suit cutting him off from all future college funds and cutting the CP off from child support too. Well needless to say I'm the bad guy now since they can not follow the rules.

Posted by: dean at March 28, 2008 12:17 PM

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