Newburyport Family Law & Divorce Attorney: Disputes Over College Expenses

At Turco Legal, our Newburyport family law attorney is an experienced, effective advocate for divorced and separated parents. Our family law team can help you find the right solution. If you have questions about the division of college costs after divorce or separation, we are a legal resource. To arrange your completely confidential initial appointment with a Massachusetts family law attorney, please do not hesitate to contact us at our Newburyport law office.

What to Know About Parental Responsibility for College Expenses in Massachusetts

A college education is expensive—and it is getting more costly each year. A recent data analysis by U.S. News and World Report found that the average college and university tuition costs are up an astounding 144 percent at private colleges and 210 percent at public colleges since 2002. For parents who are divorced or separated in Massachusetts, making financial plans for a child’s college costs can be stressful and challenging. The Commonwealth’s child support guidelines could have important implications for how your child’s college costs will be handled. Here are three of the most important things to understand about the law in Massachusetts.

  • A Parent Can Be Ordered to Contribute to College Costs: Under Massachusetts law, a parent can be required to contribute to their child’s college education—including tuition costs, room and board, and other ongoing financial support. The general principle in Massachusetts is that a parent may be responsible for some share of their child’s college costs even after the child turns 18 years of age (up to 23 years of age). How much a parent can be required to contribute towards a child’s college education depends on a wide variety of factors, including their current financial situation.
  • There is a Presumptive Cap on Mandatory College Contributions (UMass Cap): The child support guidelines for Massachusetts include a provision that is colloquially known as the “UMass cap.” Simply stated, the provision states that there is a presumption that parents should not be required to contribute more than 50 percent of the in-state resident cost of tuition, fees, and room/board at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. Of course, college tuition at a private university or out-of-state school can be far higher than that. To be clear, this is only a “presumptive” cap. In some cases, a Massachusetts court could order a parent to pay more—as long as that parent has the financial ability to pay.
  • Judges Have Discretion in College Expense Disputes: College expense disputes are notoriously complex. They are always handled on a case-by-case basis. Further, even though there is a presumptive “UMass cap” in place, courts have considerable discretion to determine the proper distribution of a child’s college costs.

Resolving College Expenses Disputes Through Mediation

For many divorced or separated parents, mediation can be an effective tool to help them resolve disagreements. For a number of different reasons, a dispute over who should pay for a child’s college education and the related expenses may be best addressed and resolved through mediation. A non-binding and non-adversarial type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), the mediation process puts the focus on collaborative problem-solving. It is often a good option for family law disputes as it allows parties to work together in a lower-conflict environment. To learn more about mediating a dispute of college expenses, please do not hesitate to contact our Newburyport family law mediator.

Why Work with the Massachusetts Family Law Attorneys at Turco Legal

For divorced or separated parents, determining responsibility for college costs is rarely easy. At Turco Legal, we always take a prepared, pragmatic approach to family law cases. The goal of our law firm is to help you find the legal solution that is best suited for your needs. Among other things, our Newburyport family law attorneys are prepared to:

  • Hear your story and conduct a comprehensive review of your case;
  • Gather and organize financial records and other relevant information; and,
  • Develop a strategy designed to find the best answer for your child’s college expenses.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation with Our Newburyport Family Law Attorney Today

At Turco Legal, our Newburyport family lawyer helps parents resolve disputes over the college costs of their children. If you have questions about your rights or responsibilities, we can help. Call us at (978) 225-9030 or contact us online to request a confidential consultation with an experienced lawyer. We provide family law and divorce representation in Newburyport and throughout Essex County.

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