For those of you who are still not divorced, and who are worried about how to make sure college expenses for your child get paid for, take into consideration C.G.S. Section 46b-56c and write orders into your financial agreement which meet the requirements of that statute. Note that if you do not attend to this matter at the time you write up your dissolution agreement, you can't make up for the mistake later.
At the time of dissolution, the court may order the parents to pay for college expenses for a child until the child reaches the age of 23. The court cannot order an award for college expenses if the parents don't agree to the award, unless the court finds that it's more likely than not that the parents would have paid for the child's college education had the parents stayed together.
In the divorce decree, the parties can agree to an order for the payment of college expenses or they can agree to allow for a petition for college expenses at a later date. If a support order for college expenses isn't entered at the time of the decree, and the parties don't agree in the decree that it can be ordered at a later date, a support order cannot be entered later.
An educational support order is an order requiring a parent to provide support for a child to attend for up to a total of four full academic years an institution of higher education or a private occupational school for the purpose of attaining a bachelor's or other undergraduate degree, or other appropriate vocational instruction. An educational support order may be entered with respect to any child who has not attained 23 years old, and shall terminate not later than the date on which the child attains 23 years old. An educational support order does not include support for graduate or postgraduate education beyond a bachelor's degree.
The court, in determining whether to enter an educational support order, shall consider all relevant circumstances, including:
(1) The parents' income, assets and other obligations, including obligations to other dependents;(2) The child's need for support to attend an institution of higher education or private occupational school considering the child's assets and the child's ability to earn income;(3) The availability of financial aid from other sources, including grants and loans;(4) The reasonableness of the higher education to be funded considering the child's academic record and the financial resources available;(5) The child's preparation for, aptitude for and commitment to higher education; and(6) Evidence, if any, of the institution of higher education or private occupational school the child would attend.
To qualify for payments due under an educational support order, the child must
(1) enroll in an accredited institution of higher education or private occupational school, as defined in section 10a-22a,(2) actively pursue a course of study commensurate with the child's vocational goals that constitutes at least one-half the course load determined by that institution or school to constitute full-time enrollment,(3) maintain good academic standing in accordance with the rules of the institution or school, and(4) make available all academic records to both parents during the term of the order. The order shall be suspended after any academic period during which the child fails to comply with these conditions.
The educational support order may include support for any necessary educational expense, including room, board, dues, tuition, fees, registration and application costs, but such expenses shall not be more than the amount charged by The University of Connecticut for a full-time in-state student at the time the child for whom educational support is being ordered matriculates, except this limit may be exceeded by agreement of the parents. An educational support order may also include the cost of books and medical insurance for such child.
This section does not create a right of action by a child for parental support for higher education. The provisions of this section shall apply only in cases when the initial order for parental support of the child is entered on or after October 1, 2002.
-From Sec. 46b-56c of the Connecticut Statutes.
It is my understanding that if a child wants to obtain a right of action for parental support for higher education he or she would have to get a written, signed, and notarized agreement from whichever parent indicating a financial support arrangement which the parent willingly agrees to prior to the child entering college and incurring the expenses.
Wording of provision regarding college education which you can place in your financial agreement:
"The parties anticipate that had their marriage remained intact the children would have continued their education after secondary school, attending college or some other institution of higher education, and the parties would have contributed to the costs of such higher education. Accordingly, the parties ask that this court retain jurisdiction to enter educational support orders for each child pursuant to C.G.S. Section 46b-56c."