Figuring out how to pay for your children’s college education is an intimidating process, and it can be even further complicated if you are divorced or are going through a divorce.

Do the parents have any responsibility to pay college tuition and expenses? Does child support continue when the children go off to college, and if so, how is it affected? The answers to these common questions depend on which state has jurisdiction of the divorce.

In Kansas, parents are not required to pay child support after the child turns 18 and graduates high school, even if the child is enrolled in a college program. However, it is still common for parents to reach contractual agreements in their divorce that specify each parent’s obligation toward college expenses.

In Missouri, child support may be extended beyond age 18 and high school graduation until age 21 if the child meets certain criteria for full-time college attendance. The Court also has jurisdiction to order parents to pay a certain portion of the children’s college expenses. If college was not yet on the horizon at the time of the original divorce, modification of child support is often necessary to take into account the specific circumstances of the family such as the cost of tuition, whether the student is living at home or on campus, whether the student stays at home with a parent during school breaks, which parent may be paying for other expenses like cell phones and automobile expenses, the existence of college savings accounts, and each parent’s income and financial circumstances.

Because circumstances vary from family to family when it comes to college and the expenses related to same, it is important to talk to a lawyer well in advance of your children beginning college to discuss options and potential obligations, especially if your divorce is in Missouri.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.