Oregon may require parents to provide child support for adult children. Called a “Child Attending School,” parents may need to legally support an adult child between the ages of 18-21, who is unmarried and who is attending a post-secondary school or training program at least half-time (compared to what is considered full-time by the school.) The adult child must be making satisfactory progress according to the school or program
If an 18, 19, or 20 year-old adult child is attending school, the parent or parents are obligated to pay the child, not the other parent – which is different than regular child support. That child is also considered a party to the divorce proceeding for the purpose of enforcing the child attending school policy. In addition, payments are made to adult children even during summer break if the child intends to attend a school or training program during the next school year and would qualify.
Much like child support in general, child attending school funds are not intended to cover all costs associated with the needs of the adult child's education. The support will likely not cover all tuition and fees and housing costs. Support is calculated by looking at income for both parents, the needs of minor children the parents' homes, health care costs of the parents and children and other issues that affect the parents' resources. Unlike support for younger children, support for a child attending school may be paid by one or both parents. Parents should look at the child support calculator at Oregon Child Support Guidelines Calculator.
Oregon policy encourages settlement for a child attending school. Therefore, mediation should be considered and may involve the adult child. Parents are encouraged to provide support for their children and may agree to pay more than the child support obligation (in some cases much more in order to avoid students from taking on significant student debt.) And, in many situations, if a child is receiving more than the amount that could be ordered, families could avoid involving the court and a court order. However, all three persons (both parents and the child) should be aware of what a court might order.
Parents who divorce after a child has gone to college must remember that the child is a party to the divorce and must be served as a party or be asked to waive service.
Clients who are considering divorce and who have adult children attending should consult with an attorney about providing support for their adult children. You can also find more information through the Oregon Department of Justice website at ODOJ Child Attending School.