Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Supporting kids until age 23

Missouri divorce lawyer Cynthia M. Fox writes in a Missouri paper:
[Missouri Senate Bill] SB 25 contains a provision that would lower from 22 to 21 the age at which a parent no longer is obligated to pay child support for a child still in school. ... The governor's press secretary, Jessica Robinson, told me the governor had not yet decided what to do about SB 25.

For family law attorneys, this episode will cause us to sharpen our pencils when crafting the parenting plans that we recommend to the court. We must sway judges to approve plans that obligate parents to pay their child's college expenses until the earlier of when the child graduates from college, completes eight semesters, or reaches age 23.

That's right, I said age 23. The current law, passed long before I began practicing law, didn't make a lot of sense given that so many kids reach age 22 part of the way through their last year in college.
In most states, parents have no obligation to pay for college or anything else for a child past age 18.

Notice how the divorce lawyer has her own agenda for parental obligations, even if it means selling out her own clients and ignoring the statutes.

I have heard of parents who were tricked into adverse parenting plan clauses by their own lawyers. Some lawyer will have her own opinion that children should be supported until age 23, and have her own client sign such an obligation by pretending it is just boilerplate language. Only years later does the parent discover that he has been fooled into an obligation that not even the state legislature thinks that he should have.

Lawyers are supposed to zealously protect their clients' legal rights. In family court, you really cannot trust your own lawyer to do that. You have to educate yourself on how the system works, and get rid of any lawyer who is working against your interests.

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