Pennsylvania Family Law: College Support Payments?

A common point of contention in Pennsylvania child support cases is determining how to handle college payments. College, being technically a choice for the individual on whether to attend or not, is a complicated issue.

Prior to Curtis v. Kline, the Pennsylvania courts followed PA common law, which allowed for ordering college payments in child support. The Curtis case established this practice as unconstitutional. The court found that enforcing this statute did not pass the rational basis test because the statute violated equal protection; some children would be treated differently than others. The main emphasis for on the difference between split and intact families and the availability of resources various children have. Curtis v. Kline, at the time, was the only case to invalidate a law like this on constitutional grounds. ‘

In the more recent case, Mazurek v. Russell, clarified however, that if mother or father puts a condition and agrees upon a condition to pay college expenses, they will be on the hook for such expenses. The court stated that there must be clear and consented to language regarding covering post-majority educational expenses.

These cases are important when dealing with support conferences. You need a clear understanding from the beginning of how you are going to handle potential college expenses. There are multiple avenues when dealing with finances like this, however any route taken should be recorded in the support order. Put down in writing whether you will split the payment, take out loans, or have your child finance it. Whatever you decide, record it!

If you have a Pennsylvania child support matter, please contact our law office today and schedule a consultation!

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