Tag: Child Support College

Child Custody and a New College Cheating Scandal

Want to lose custody of your child? You might think a post on how to lose custody may be irrelevant. You would be wrong. As it turns out, some parents are trying to lose custody of their children on purpose, as part of the new child custody and college cheating scandal.

custody college scandal

Really Desperate Housewives

Felicity Huffman, who played Lynette Scavo on Desperate Housewives, pled guilty to fraud charges in the college exam cheating scandal, for paying $15,000 to an organization that helped her daughter cheat on the SATs.

Not unlike the Felicity Huffman fraud, this new scheme involves families giving up custody of their children to relatives or friends. Their children are then filing for financial independence, opening the door to financial aid they couldn’t get while in their parents’ custody.

The University of Illinois started investigating after high school counselors from “fairly wealthy neighborhoods” had called to inquire about low-income orientation programs they were unfamiliar.

The university dug deeper and found a pattern of students entering into a legal guardianship, though they were still supported by their parents.

The scheme bears similarity to tactics adopted by Rick Singer, the mastermind behind the nation’s largest college admissions scandal. In Singer’s scheme, rich families secured advantages normally dedicated to students in need.

For instance, Singer would instruct clients to have their children diagnosed with disabilities. As a result, they got more time to take the ACT and SAT, college admissions tests, which could translate to higher scores.

Florida Child Custody and College

It is easy to see why a parent could be tempted into giving up child custody for free college tuition. College is expensive, and is getting more expensive. The main reasons for tuition inflation include a surge in demand, a lack of state funding, a need for more faculty members and money to pay them, and ballooning student services. Some states require parents to support their children while in college.

I have written about parents having to support their children into adulthood before. In Florida, the duty to provide support for a child is based upon the child’s incapacity and the child’s need of protection and care.

A parent’s legal duty to support his child usually ends at the age of majority – 18. But a parent will still owe a duty of support to an adult child in extraordinary circumstances, such as when the child suffers severe physical or mental incapacitation.

Recently, Florida’s child support statute was changed to require all judgments awarding child support to include a provision stating that child support will terminate on the child’s 18th birthday unless the court finds otherwise, or it is otherwise agreed to.

To extend support beyond age 18, there must be a child who is dependent due to mental or physical incapacity that began prior to age 18; or the child has reached 18, is still living at home, attending high school, and reasonably expects to graduate high school before age 19.

Florida law does not follow other states in finding that college is a “necessary education” requiring child support. In Florida, a parent’s duty to pay an adult child’s college expenses is moral rather than legal.

When parents in a divorce agree to educate their child after the child reaches 18, the agreement may be enforced. However, the obligation is not viewed as child support in Florida, but a contractual duty arising from the marital settlement agreement.

Not a Full House

Facing a maximum of 40 years in prison, actress Lori Loughlin of Full House, is accused of paying $500,000 to have her daughters billed as recruits for the University of Southern California crew team, even though neither of them participates in the sport.

Since the Loughlin fraud was exposed, more people are taking notice. Recently, the University of Illinois identified three students who had used guardianship to gain extra financial aid and potentially 11 students in the coming academic year.

It’s still unclear how widespread the pattern might be, and ProPublica reported it had found more than 40 similar cases where students may have benefited from the model.

While the practice might be legal, it will likely be seen by many as rich families taking advantage of resources clearly aimed at the less well-off. It also comes at a time when college costs continue to rise and more students take out loans, both private and public, to finance their education.

It’s also unclear how much money these students might have been able to secure. The maximum yearly amount for a federal Pell Grant is roughly $6,200, which students need not pay back.

There is no shortage of targets. The University of Illinois offers a program that promises free tuition for four years to in-state families earning $61,000 or less. There is also the Illinois Promise, which covers tuition, fees, room and board, and other costs.

The Pro Publica article is here.

 

International Child Support

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled this week that divorced mothers will have to share the financial burden of child support with the fathers if their salaries are equal, or the woman’s is higher and children are in joint custody. This brings Israel into line with Florida law on the matter.

The Israel Case

Until now, men have been required to pay child support to their ex-wives even in situations of joint custody when the mother earned more than the father.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the ruling was given in response to an appeal by two divorced men whose ex-wives earned higher salaries than they did but who were still required to pay child support even though their children were in joint custody.

“The exclusive obligation of the father for child support payments and the exemption granted to the mother is not directly affected by the question of child custody,” wrote the justices.

The current law – requiring the father alone to pay for essential needs in child support – is likely to leave the father without the necessary resources to guarantee the welfare of the child and his well-being when he is staying with him, and also causes financial difficulties [for the father] himself.

The justices agreed with the claim of the two fathers that current law discriminates against men in not taking into account situations in which there is joint custody.

Florida Child Support

I’ve written about child support issues in Florida before. Calculating child support in Florida used to be entirely at the judge’s discretion, based on a parent’s ability to pay, and the child’s needs.

Florida established child support guidelines which follows the income shares model. The guidelines are far from foolproof, but do provide the amounts can be adjusted upward or downward. The statute allows deviations by up to 5 percent after considering relevant factors.

Additionally, the statute authorizes deviations by more than 5 percent, pursuant to a list of 10 enumerated factors, and one equitable factor — the colloquial “catch-all” exception. Finally, the statue mandates use of a gross-up calculation of support for substantial time-sharing.

In Florida, parents exercising substantial time-sharing incur their own child rearing expenses when they time-share, and are duplicating payment for items already included in their child support.

Without adjustments for substantial time-sharing, parents can be paying twice for a child’s expense, making time-sharing prohibitively expensive. Accordingly, in 2008, the statute was amended to expand the meaning of substantial time-sharing to equalize the child support obligation.

Back in Israel

Attorney Amir Shai, who represented one of the fathers, described the ruling as one of the most important decisions of the last decade. “From now on, the discrimination by which only fathers have to financially support their children will end,” said Shai.

Children in Israel now have two addresses which must take care of them, as in any normal country. It’s reasonable to expect that tens of thousands of fathers will now flood the courts with requests to adjust their child support payments in accordance with this ruling in the coming months.

The Jerusalem Post article is here.

 

Child Support for College Kids

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Support on Monday, May 9, 2016.

An Italian court ordered a father to support his 28-year-old son. The Italians call it “Bamboccioni” – spoilt big babies. Must Florida parents pay child support to a 28-year old “child”?

According to Britain’s Telegraph, the Italian father went to court protesting supporting his adult son. He was challenging a term of his divorce settlement, that said he must pay for tertiary education.

The son completed his degree in literature, taking several years longer than expected to finish the course, and enrolled in a post-graduate course in experimental cinema in Bologna.

The father argued that his son should get a part-time job and start paying his own way. But the civil court ruled that the cinema course is in keeping with the son’s “personal aspirations” and must be paid for by his father.

Around 65% of Italians aged 18 to 34 still live with their parents, the highest percentage of young stay-at-homes anywhere in Europe.

The problem of adult children taking their parents to court for money is so acute that the Italian Association of Matrimonial Lawyers has called for an age limit to be set by the Supreme Court in Rome.

I’ve written about parents having to support their children into adulthood before. In Florida, the duty to provide support for a child is based upon the child’s incapacity and the child’s need of protection and care.

A parent’s legal duty to support his child usually ends at the age of majority – 18. But, a parent will still owe a duty of support to an adult child in extraordinary circumstances, such as when the child suffers severe physical or mental incapacitation.

Recently, Florida’s child support statute was changed to require all judgments awarding child support to include a provisions stating that child support will terminate on the child’s 18th birthday unless the court finds otherwise, or it is otherwise agreed to.

To extend support beyond age 18, there must be a child who is dependent due to mental or physical incapacity that began prior to age 18; or the child has reached 18, is still living at home, attending high school, and reasonably expects to graduate high school before age 19.

The difficult question is what kind of mental or physical incapacity justifies an extension of child support. If a child lives at home and is suffering from a mild physical disability or a moderate psychological disorder, would that be severe enough? Obviously, Bamboccionis are not going to justify the award.

The Telegraph article is here.