Child Support When a Child is in College

In Missouri, if a child enrolls in an institution of vocational or higher education by October first following graduation from high school (or completion of a GED program), the obligation for child support can continue until the child completes the program or turns 21, whichever occurs first. However, the child must enroll for and complete at least twelve hours of credit each semester, not including the summer semester, and achieve grades sufficient to reenroll.

A child who is employed at least fifteen hours per week during the semester may take as few as nine credit hours per semester and remain eligible for child support so long as all other requirements are met. Also, a child who has been diagnosed with a developmental disability, or whose physical disability or diagnosed health problem limits the child's ability to carry the required number of credit hours, shall remain eligible for child support so long as such child is enrolled in and attending an institution of vocational or higher education, and the child continues to meet the other requirements discussed here.

To remain eligible for continued child support, at the beginning of each semester the child shall submit to each parent a transcript or similar official document provided by the institution of vocational or higher education which includes the courses the child is enrolled in and has completed for each term, the grades and credits received for each such course, and an official document from the institution listing the courses in which the child is enrolled for the upcoming term and the number of credits for each such course. If the child fails to comply with this requirement, the child support does not necessarily terminate, but the paying parent can move the court for an abatement for the semester where the requirement was not met. However, if the non-custodial parent makes a formal request for the required documents, and the child fails to produce them within 30 days, the child support may then terminate without the accrual of a child support arrearage, and the child support will not be eligible for reinstatement. Also, the child or parent obligated to pay support may petition the court to amend the order to direct the obligated parent to make the payments directly to the child.

Under Missouri law, an "institution of vocational education" means any postsecondary training or schooling for which the student is assessed a fee and attends classes regularly. "Higher education" means any community college, college, or university at which the child attends classes regularly.

Note that no modification or termination of child support is automatic, and in order to modify or terminate a child support obligation the requesting party must file a motion with the court.

For assistance establishing, modifying or terminating child support, we welcome you to contact Kansas City child support attorney Mark A. Wortman.