As many parents are trying to decide whether to send their children to college knowing that college may be online, some parents and children are considering letting their child have a “gap year” while the COVID crisis continues. But can letting your child take a year off (or even a semester) have an impact on child support or payment for college? Yes it can.
Missouri law requires that a child enroll in college or post-secondary school by October 1st following his/her graduation from high school. Failure of a child to enroll by October 1st normally emancipates that child in the eyes of the court for support purposes, meaning that child support, payment for college, or any other court-ordered support ends for that child on September 30th. In extraordinary circumstances, the court has discretion to waive the October 1st deadline. Given the newness of the current crisis, we have no way of knowing whether the pandemic will meet that standard. If a child has been enrolled in college or post-secondary school and the child is less than 21, failure of that child to maintain full-time enrollment and remain in good standing with the school means the court can abate child support for that semester or terminate child support.
These are uncertain times and there are many considerations to take into account when deciding whether and when your child should go to school after graduation from high school. Court-ordered support obligations can be affected by your choices, so consulting an attorney like the family law attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. before making a final decision is a good idea.