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September 21, 2014

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Editor's Note: This opinion piece was submitted by a member of the public to The Day's community website, www.Zip06.com.

Acting Today for our Children's Tomorrow, Post-Secondary Education

Published 01/10/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 01/10/2013 09:23 AM

Divorce is never an easy decision. This decision becomes even more difficult when children are involved. An important mantra to keep in mind during this period of turmoil is to always put your children first, no matter what. Although this may be easier said than done when two parties have become consumed with the litigation of divorce, there is one important topic that often gets passed over,

post-secondary education.

Post-secondary education pertains to the contribution parents make toward their children’s college expenses. In this day in age, a college education has become a valuable asset and often a necessity for certain professions. This issue can be handled in several ways. One method is to put provisions pertaining to educational costs in your final divorce decree or to file a motion for educational support.

Educational support orders are governed by Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-56c. An educational support order under this section does not include support for graduate or postgraduate education beyond a bachelor's degree. The jurisdiction of the Superior Court to enter an order concerning the education of a child beyond the age of 18 is permitted exclusively by statute. Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-66 which provides, in pertinent part, that: “If the agreement is in writing and provides for the care, education, maintenance or support of a child beyond the age of eighteen, it may also be incorporated or otherwise made a part of any such order and shall be enforceable to the same extent as any other provision of such order or decree, notwithstanding the provisions of section 1-1d.” This means that either parent may make a motion asking the court to order educational support for a child to attend an institution of higher education or a private occupational school for up to four academic years or until the child reaches 23 years of age, whichever is sooner.

The legislature has further amended Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-66 (previously § 46-49) in order to provide for the support of post-majority children only if there is an agreement to do so and if it is in writing. Meaning that if no educational support order is entered at the time of your divorce, and your divorce decree does not specifically provide that a motion for educational support may be filed later, no educational support order may be entered afterwards. This makes either putting a plan in place or asking the court to retain jurisdiction of utmost importance. If something is not in place at the time of divorce, your children suffer from this oversight.

The power to enforce an agreement involving post-majority child support may include the power to determine the amount each party is required to contribute under the terms of the agreement, if the parties' agreement contemplates such a determination by the court. See Gallagher v. Gallagher, 11 Conn. App. 509, 528 A.2d 379 (1987). Therefore, post-secondary education is not something that can wait when deciding to divorce. You must act today to protect your child’s tomorrow.

For more information or questions regarding this topic, please contact Attorney Andrea Moffitt at 860.767.9044, Ext. 222, or anmoffitt@trendowskilaw.com.

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