Divorcing? Should a portion of child support checks be set aside to pay for college tuition for the kids?

A client recently asked if he could get the court to force his wife to put part of the child support into a college fund for the kids. My response was that the court could probably be convinced to do just about anything by a persuasive lawyer. But chances are, I said, I did not think the court, under normal circumstances, would order a custodial parent to put a portion of the child support into a college fund.  In states like New York as an example, paying for college expenses is a foregone conclusion (counties like New York County are greater proponents of this rule than other counties). It is usually an expense that is shared by both parents, pro rata. If one parent was the main breadwinner (or the only bread winner) that parent would likely be expected to pay for college, or to provide funds sufficient to pay the tuition at a state school such as the State University of New York. In other states, and in some other counties in New York, college tuition is an add on. It is not an every day expense like food, shelter, clothing. Traditionally, child support payments are meant to go to such everyday expenses and not to pay for college expenses years down the road. But some non-custodial parents argue that a portion of the support dollars should be set aside for college. Is this a reasonable request? In a way, yes. It doesn’t sound totally unreasonable – especially if the amount of child support paid exceeds the reasonable cost and everyday expenses of child-rearing such as food, clothing and shelter. It is not unreasonable to demand, “where do the excess funds go? And why can’t the excess funds be put to college education funds?”
On the other hand, some non-custodial parents make these demands simply to harass the custodial parent. If this is the case, a judge will likely see through it and will not order that funds be set aside for that purpose. But if, under the circumstances, it makes sense that some of the funds be set aside, then a judge, arguably, should order it. Talk with your attorney to evaluate your situation objectively before you begin to make unreasonable demands of the court and of your ex.
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