What Post-secondary Support is and When is it Awarded

In our recent blog about how child support is determined we touched lightly on post-secondary support. Today, we dive deeper into what post-secondary support is and when it may be deemed necessary by the court.

What is Post-secondary Support?

When a couple with children divorces, one party (typically the one that does not live with the children) is expected to pay child support to the other to help with the costs of caring for that child. This support is intended to help with medical care, school fees and expenses, food, and other necessary expenses.

Typically, the parent paying child support will continue to do so until the child graduates from high school. However, there are some instances in which it may be deemed necessary for that parent to continue to help pay for the child’s expenses even after that child becomes an adult. This is what is referred to as post-secondary support. 

The most common situations where post-secondary support may be deemed necessary is in the case of high school, university attendance, or disability.

When Post-secondary Support is Awarded

When a Child is Still in High School

Most children graduate from high school when they are 18 years old, at which point they are able to vote and enlist in the military, and are thus seen by the state as legal adults. However, if a child is still in high school even after turning 18, the court may legally see them as dependent and thus decide that child support payments are still necessary. 

Payment for Post-secondary Education 

Another reason that postsecondary support may be paid is when it is in support of a child’s post-secondary education. Post-secondary education in this context refers to any community or 4-year college, technical school, or trade school program. Keep in mind that if you are the parent being paid child support and want to ensure that post-secondary support is included in your child support agreement you must file for post-secondary support before your child graduates or turns 18, whichever comes later.

Post-secondary support may already be included in your initial support agreement. You can reference your support agreement if you have a preexisting one. If you are currently in the process of creating your child support agreement, post-secondary support may be something to think about including.

RCW 26.19.090 states the standards for post-secondary child support awards and dictates expectations for the child. Support will not be given after age 23. 

Dependence as a Result of Disability 

The final reason post-secondary support may be necessary is in order to help a child with cognitive or physical disabilities that render the child unable to care for themselves. This order for support may be indefinite or until the court deems the child to no longer be dependent. 

Whether you would like to amend your child support agreement or are in the process of creating one, it will be helpful to have a legal representative who is well versed in family law. Contact one of our family law attorneys at The Narrows Law Group today.