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Oneida County Law Blog

Does child support have to cover a child's college expenses?

The laws of New York require that parents subject to child support agreements and orders financially provide for their kids until they reach the age of 21. While marriage, enlistment in the military and other actions may emancipate children from the financial support of their parents, in many cases, children reach the age of 21 with the help of child support payments from their divorced parents. As most kids are out of high school when they reach this age, some may wonder if and how their parents will provide for them as they enter into college.

It is important that individuals understand that they can agree with their former partner to support their kids through their higher education pursuits. Two individuals who were once married with children but who choose to divorce can decide that they will work together to pay for the expenses their kids take on as they enter college. Terms regarding college costs can be worked into child support agreements with the help of family law attorneys.

The role a prenuptial agreement may play in a New York divorce

Not every couple that chooses to get married will elect to draft and execute a prenuptial agreement before formalizing the relationship between the partners in marriage. Those that do, though, create contracts that can dictate how certain financial and property-based decisions will be handled in the event that the marriages end in divorce. Because of this, individuals who entered into prenuptial agreements with their spouses may not be able to change the decisions that they made in the past regarding certain divorce-related topics.

Prenuptial agreements cannot provide couples with complete agreements on how all marital matters will be settled if divorce happens. For example, prenuptial agreements cannot establish how the custody of children will be managed as all such matters must take into account the needs and best interests of the children. Prenuptial agreements are made before marriages happen and therefore a child may not even be born when decisions about their hypothetical custody are considered in the creation of a prenuptial agreement.

What is non-marital property?

The courts of New York follow equitable distribution laws when it comes to dividing up marital property. Past posts on this blog have discussed how these laws seek to preserve fairness in the division and assignment of marital assets. However, marital property is only one kind of property that must be addressed when a marriage ends. Non-marital property must also be identified and, in some cases, may be disputed when couples elect to pursue a divorce.

Non-marital property is property that is owned by only one of the partners to a marriage. There are different ways that a person may retain non-marital property despite their formalized legal union to their spouse. For example, if a person owned an item of property before they were married and never converted it to marital property, then that item may retain its non-marital status.

How to schedule a 50-50 parenting plan

Many parents who get a divorce discover that they can benefit from a 50-50 parenting plan in which each parent shares the joy of caring for their children 50 percent of the time. Children will have two homes and live with both parents an equal amount of time with this plan.

While the central premise of equal parenting time is a constant with the 50-50 split, parents may have varying ways of divvying up time depending on the schedules and needs of everyone involved. Here are several ways parents might divide their time in this way:

Seeking modification to an alimony award

New York courts have the power to grant individuals alimony pursuant to their divorces. If, for example, one party would be unable to support themselves due to a lack of income following the finalization of their divorce, then the court may require their ex to provide them with financial support. Generally, individuals should not suffer significant financial hardships just because they want to end their marriages.

However, over time, the financial circumstances of a person may change. A once unemployed individual may work to obtain a degree or may find a good opportunity to re-enter the workforce and make their own wages. A person who receives alimony may discover that they are employable and they have the capacity to support their own needs without the help of their former spouse.

What is the income shares model of child support?

New York courts apply the income shares model in child support cases. This model generally requires both parents to contribute to the financial support of their child and a percentage of the sum of their collective incomes should be set as support for their child.

Under the New York child support guidelines, parents are expected to contribute 17 percent of their collective income to the support of one child. In this type of child support case, if the mother earned $200,000 per year and the father earned $70,000, the court would start by calculating the sum of their combined income to $270,000. The court would then calculate 17 percent of $270,000 as $45,900, and that would be the amount of money the parents would need to contribute for the child for a year of support.

The end of an alimony award

Not all alimony awards are intended to last forever. Although some individuals may be legally entitled to lifelong alimony due to illness or the inability to work, others may only be awarded alimony long enough to get them back on their feet following their divorces. This is particularly true when the ex-spouse is able to work for their own income. To this end, some New Yorkers may see their alimony awards stop because that is how the awards were established in their agreements or orders.

However, even when a person is to receive alimony indefinitely, there are still some events that may bring that obligation to its end. For example, according to the New York City Bar, the death of either the alimony payer or the alimony recipient may terminate the obligation.

Visitation options for New York parents

When courts make decisions regarding the physical custody of children, they must weigh many factors. In some cases, the children may be able to spend part of their time with one parent and the rest with the other. In other cases, courts may determine that the children's interests are better served in sole physical custody plans.

If a parent is not granted physical custody of their child, they may worry that without contact they will lose the important bond they have developed with them. However, parents and kids can stay connected through visitation. Visitation allows a noncustodial parent to spend time with their child in a scheduled format.

Taking the dog: How the court handles living assets

You know you want to get a divorce, and the process has already begun. Unfortunately, neither you nor your spouse want to give up your pets. You share two dogs and a cat, a bird and a few other small animals. You both take an interest in caring for them and don't want to give them up.

Your situation isn't uncommon, but an interesting problem is that the courts don't recognize animals as creatures requiring custody but, instead, as assets. Like any other kind of property, the animals can be divvied up upon divorce, but they aren't typically subject to custody arrangements or other similar solutions.

Student loans are a common cause of divorce

The cost of obtaining a college degree in the United States has skyrocketed in recent years. Although some New York students may be able to keep their educational costs in check by electing to attend one of the state's excellent public universities, others may choose to follow their hearts to the private schools and out-of-state institutions of their dreams. In the end, students may leave their college years with more than just new degrees: they may also have acquired significant student loans.

These loans can plague individuals for years, and a recent survey suggests that student loans may even be a relatively common cause of divorce. According to the survey, around one out of every eight individuals surveyed regarding the cause of their divorce claimed that their student loans brought their marriages to their ends.

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