If you are parent who is paying child support and you are also paying for your child’s college room and board, are you entitled to a credit for those payments? Generally, the answer is yes.

You should know that the obligation to provide for college expenses (including room and board) is not part of the parties’ basic child support obligation. Therefore, payments or support for a child’s college education are not mandatory. However, in many instances, a court will require that a parent pay for all or part of their child’s college education.

The purpose of basic child support is to pay for the child’s shelter, food and other expenses. If you are also paying for the child’s room and board, you would be paying twice for that child’s “room and board” (shelter and food).

Therefore, a parent paying child support is typically given a credit for any payments made on behalf of the child’s college room and board. The amount of the credit is typically limited to the time that the child is actually in residence at the college or university and while that child is not physically residing with the custodial parent. It typically does not matter if the child lives in a college dorm or in off-campus housing. The criteria is whether the child is living at home with the custodial parent or if the child is away at college.

When parties enter into an agreement settling their divorce, they should consider the interplay between the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation and that parent’s payment for the child’s college room and board. It is important to make sure that the agreement is clear and unambiguous, such that it specifies that the non-custodial parent’s payments towards a particular child’s room and board will provide a credit towards that child’s support payment.

Providing the non-custodial parent with a credit for payments towards a child’s college room and board is sound policy. Otherwise, the non-custodial parent is essentially paying for room and board twice, once as part of the basic child support obligation and second as part of the child’s college room and board.

David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office has assisted numerous individuals in matrimonial and family law and in determining the best strategies for the payment of college. If you have questions about your divorce, call David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office today at 631-239-1702, email at david@dbnylaw.com or visit our web site: www.dbnylaw.com. The Badanes Law Office has offices in Northport and Garden City.

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