Forum Archives

Return to Forum List

"Child" support for an adult child at University

You are not logged in. Login here or register.

AppleBlossom posted 8/19/2013 19:14 PM

Hello all

My fiance has two children, aged 18 and 17. His eldest is finishing her final year in high school and is planning on attending Uiversity next year. She is a hard worker, does well in her studies and has always had part time jobs. Same with her sister. My fiance pays a lot in child support because of his income. His ex wife has kept her part time job, works 18 hours a week, has a degree and kept these work hours "for the children".

My fiance will continue paying child support for the eldest until she finished her secondary schooling, but has decided after that date he will arrange something between him and his eldest daughter. This is because he has always struggled wiht working hard and earning money, while his ex-wife goes out a lot, socialises a lot, and doesnt have great spending habits. He wants to make sure that his support for his children goes directly to them and for their benefit once they are adults.

My question is: what is reasonable? He wants to do the right thing by his children, and support them while they continue their studies but at the same time he doesnt want them to rely solely on him for cash handouts.

If he were to reimburse them for expenses, what would be reasonable? The cost of running a car, medical expenses (we have universal health care cover here in Oz), her telephone, fees, textbooks?

Although the ex-wife doesnt work many hours and earns a pittance, she has a large home which we believe is almost debt free. Her contribution to the children's upbringing in a financial sense is providing a roof over their head and food in their bellies.

I am trying to look at this at an arm's length point of view, and we both want to make sure we are doing the right thing for everyone.

Look forward to your responses.


Amazonia posted 8/19/2013 19:26 PM

What about continuing to support them in the same amount he had been, but paying directly to the school for tuition? Since they aren't living at home, no sense in giving the money to their mother, and since they work, they can learn to budget their own income if tuition is taken care of.

inconnu posted 8/19/2013 19:35 PM

He needs to take a look at his divorce decree. What he pays, and for how long, should be spelled out in it. If it's not, then he would have more leeway in changing who and how he pays.

For instance, if it just says that he is responsible for paying a certain percentage of university expenses, then he should be able to pay those directly to the school, or channel it through his daughter, instead of his ex-wife.

foxglove posted 8/19/2013 19:45 PM

When I divorced, my youngest son was 18 and in college, so no official custody support. As part of our divorce decree, we agreed to split tuition, room and board and insurance. At the time, he paid for cell coverage as part of a family plan. The kids lived with me during vacations and the summer months, and so with the increased expense, I claimed the kids as a tax deduction. The kids paid for their own textbooks, and extras through summer jobs.

I will say, however, that my XH and I had very similar income levels.

This seemed like a reasonable plan at the time, although with time, my XH did not hold up his end of the bargain with the younger son, and so I ended up with most of the expenses for him. I feel fairly good about the fact that the boys ended up with little student debt.

purplejacket4 posted 8/19/2013 20:19 PM

My parents divorced when I was a college sophomore. In their decree they split it as follows:

Dad paid tuition, fees, and books
Mom paid room/board (later apartment c utilities and food allowance)
Dad had me on his health insurance
mom paid for car insurance (no cell phones back then)

I worked summers to pay for clothes, car upkeep, gas, going out to eat, gifts, misc. I worked my sr year to pay for med school applications and travel for interviewing

I think this was pretty fair. My father had a higher paying job (engineer) versus my mom (administrative assistant). Since I went to Incredibly Religious University my dad's portion was much larger (tuition was 5x the state rate then).

AppleBlossom posted 8/19/2013 22:26 PM

Hey all, thank you for replies so far. We are in Australia, so no divorce decree as such. Financial issues and splitting of assets as between the spouses are dealt with in a financial agreement and ratified by the court, and that just deals with the house, retirement funds, assets etc. Anything to do with the children is in a parenting plan, which cannot be enforced legally (although is evidence if one party seeks Orders from the Family Court).

Child Support levels and rules are set down by the Child Support Agency. The rule is that child support stops at the day the child turns 18. There is no legal provision for anything after that, although the parties can agree between themselves.

So, in the absence of a decree and anything legal, legally he is not obligated to continue to pay anything, but morally we believe that it is right to do so. However, paying such a large sum to an eighteen year old that is the equivalent of what was paid to his wife as child support would be excessive.

Hence the reason for asking for guidance. I am thinking (personally) that tuition, books, car and phone expenses would be pretty decent, and would leave her with no debt when she had finished her degree. We would also be very pleased to spend as much time with her as she likes at our place, and consider any other requests for assistance as appropriate. She is a decent kid, and I want the best for all our children.

Still really interested to see what others have agreed and what is fair generally.

Bottom line is, we want the funds to go directly to his daughter for specific purposes.

Dreamboat posted 8/19/2013 23:44 PM

Paying for a child's college is a personal decision that is, in my opinion, very much rooted in family tradition. It is very commendable that your F wants to support his children in their higher education.

My parents paid for my college (and I plan to pay as much as I can afford for my DD's college). However, at no time did they give me a large sum of money for me to do what I pleased. Rather, they made out checks to the university for tuition, dorm, food plan, etc. The checks went from my father to me to the university and they were made out to the university. They also paid books and fees, but I would tell them how much those were and they would send me a check to cover it. They could have asked for receipts and I would have provided them, but as long as the sum was reasonable they trusted me. When I moved out of the dorm, then did send me a check to cover rent, but it was an equivalent amount that they would have paid for a dorm. I took part time jobs to make up the difference and have spending money.

I would suggest that you take a similar approach. He should not pay the money directly to DD or his X, but to the university. I think you should also come up with some strict boundaries, such as DD must maintain a B average or expenses are cut off. That is, this is not a free ride. But as long as DD is applying herself and keeping he grades up then she knows her father will support her in all ways.

However, prior to making any commitments to DD your F needs to take a hard look at the cost of university and how much he can really afford to pay. In the US the cost of college has escalated at an astronomical rate compared to when I went to college. So he needs to look at how much he can really afford to pay towards BOTH of his kids college. And then he needs to have a hard conversation with DD and tell her "I can pay for this, but that is it. You will have to make up the difference with student loan,s scholarships, and part time work."

One final thought I would like to leave with you. I am forever grateful that my parents paid for my college. I did not view it as a hand out, I viewed it as them wanting the best for me and doing what they could to make it happen. I would not be where I am today without that support.


summerain posted 8/20/2013 00:04 AM


So I'm going to flit over to D/s just because you've had a lot of responses that somewhat miss the mark because it's Australia.

Rego, car maintenance, insurance (3rd party) for the car is definitely something I would recommend. But petrol, not unless they are desperate. Unless they live somewhere with no public transport and have to pay for parking. They should catch the bus and save on petrol and parking

Are they going to move out? Are they eligible for Centrelink? If they do move out maybe they can go 'unreasonable to live at home' some students get away with it if the parents are divorced and both sign off on it.
I know we have 'universal' healthcare but how about dental?

so in essence
- you physically purchase what they need don't give them cash
- yes to textbooks: second hand if possible (many have the second hand bookshop on campus)
also you can order them online
-yes to rego
- no to petrol and running car costs (unless remote)
- no to mobile phones
-Yes to laptop and needed programs
- if they study music etc maybe an instrument. etc
- Yes to dental, optometry etc

Never give them cash: even if they move out give them giftcards for coles if they are desperate. They will get drunk and go out otherwise (even if they are underage)

ETA: They should go on hecs, no way should you be paying for that. Our government makes us slowly repay the debt as it should be, and only if we start earning a decent income. Would really advise against paying for tuition.

I would also only do these things if they are studying a proper degree that will get them somewhere.
e.g an 'arts' or 'interdisciplinary' degree is not a proper degree whereas
Music, creative writing yes because they are at least focused and have proper pathways such as a PROPER honours, masters and PHD route. Ofcourse with me I am not doing a creative degree so I'm lucky haha. I would also be talking to them about a penalizing system such as: I will not pay for your rego if you fail a subject. Make sure their preferences are properly aligned with a tertiary pathway or job pathway

e.g : WH (creative proper degree) is: bachelor-> (currently university tutor) masters->Phd (hopefully subject co-ordinator etc)
Me: bachelor (proper non creative degree)->honours (working casually in my field) -> tafe tutor -> PHD -> (Hopefully subject co-ordinator etc)

Wheras arts and interdisciplinary etc are bullshit and do have those same routes but no-one will actually ever hire them

Make them earn it

Seventeen in basically an adult in our country. This is what I would of thought would be nice for a parent to do. I never had support and it has made my journey far more difficult then it should have been. There are far too many spoilt kids at uni and it's ridiculous. They can get a job and not worry, especially if they stay at home

[This message edited by lauren123 at 12:29 AM, August 20th (Tuesday)]

Nature_Girl posted 8/20/2013 03:38 AM

I'm so envious of those of you who've been able to have college finances put into your divorce decrees. So far my STBX has been able to keep all expenses past age 17, and this includes college, out of the drafts of the decree. In fact, he's put language in that specifically states he gets to take the kids off any life insurance or other financial guarantee instruments as soon as they hit age 18. It appears he intends to disappear into the wind and not contribute to their college education. This doesn't surprise me, since he used to bitch & moan when we were together that he wasn't going to be able to retire at the age he wished due to the children hitting college age at around the same time. Looks like this divorce will enable him to put his retirement plan back on his preferred timetable. I guess our kids can go fuck themselves, right?

AppleBlossom posted 8/20/2013 03:50 AM

Hey, Nature Girl, its actually really hard for me to stay neutral, because my own ex-husband and father of my children has not paid child support in four years - I get NOTHING. I have had to find a way to fund and support three kids on my own, and I know that as they get older, I will not be able to depend on him supporting them at all, so I have to improve my prospects of better employment. Hence working full time and studying my degree.

Then I get guilty because clearly when my fiance are married, both our incomes will be joint, and together we will be supporting five children, and I wonder if assisting my children will take anything away from his. So I am always on thos merry go round of guilt/resentment/jealousy.

Nature_Girl posted 8/20/2013 03:56 AM

Maybe you need more information from the university in regards to what kind of financial aid she'll receive from them. Scholarships? Grants? Work/Study?

AppleBlossom posted 8/20/2013 05:14 AM

Nature Girl, I actually work in enrolments at a University in the city where we all live. Its very unlikely that she will receive any form of grant or scholarship, but I can actually assist her in looking for that. It might be a good way to improve our connection.

In Australia all students can defer their University debt until they finish, and then it is paid back through the taxation system on a sliding scale once they reach a certain level of income. There is no interest on this debt. There used to be an incentive to pay this up front by way of discount, but this has recently changed.

We are tossing up paying her fees for her so that she does not have this debt as she starts her professional life. This would be substantially less than the CS he is currently paying and will be a real investment in her future.

Bluebird26 posted 8/20/2013 05:58 AM

As a fellow Aussie. I would be inclined to come to some agreement with the daughter. Also remember what you agree to now, might apply for all your children to remain fair.

My opinion I would encourage the child to get a part time job to help cover lifestyle expenses. Can she get any money for Austudy/Newstart Allowance from Centrelink.

I would be more inclined to help pay university costs such as textbooks and course fees rather then build up a Hecs debt providing they pass a subject. I think as a young adult at the age of graduation they are likely to be more thankful not owing something like $50k for a university degree especially with jobs so hard to find even for graduates.

Just my 2 cents

Just a side note why aren't you pursuing child support for your children? I know dealing the CSA is painful but keep on their backs they will eventually help you. My ex tried everything to avoid paying. They now garnish his wages after 2 years of fighting for it.

AppleBlossom posted 8/20/2013 06:08 AM

Bluebird, I have pursued it and he apparently has no taxable income - or income so small that it is negligible. He has done some ducking and dodging and weaving, been out of work for years, is on some kind of a disability pension, but has recently started a small business - which I know takes cash payments.

I am at the point where I am about to lodge all sorts of appeals and complains to ATO, Centrelink and the CSA to have him under the microscope.

He just lodged his tax return and his taxable income is $18,000. Next thing you know, he is off on four day boozy weekends.

(Fiance's daughter has always worked part time and this is something that we assume will continue. We also understand this sets a precendent, and we think this will be the same arrangement that we will come to for my children as well).

I am so grateful to you for giving me your input, it has really helped us tonight.

Return to Forum List

© 2002-2018 ®. All Rights Reserved.