Child Support

College Payments for Adult Children Cannot be Used to Offset Current Child-Support Payments

On our October 25, 2013 blog we wrote that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to hear argument on whether or not college payments for adult children can be used as a credit to offset current child support payments owed for minor children. We further wrote that we will further blog the decision of this precedent setting case once decided by this state’s highest court. The appeal has been dismissed.

Ten days after hearing arguments in a case about whether or not college payments for adult children can be used as a credit to offset future child-support payments owed to minor children, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as having been improvidently granted.

On May 16, the justices issued the one-page per curiam order in Mickman v. Mickman, which involves a dispute over whether a trial court properly assessed child support and alimony pendente lite payments against Richard Mickman, who has five children, some of whom were minors at the trial’s outset.

The order will let stand a Superior Court holding that the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas properly considered the guidelines when reviewing and affirming the lower court’s order. The high court heard arguments in the case May 6.

By dismissing the appeal, the Superior Court’s holding in Horst vs. Horst is still the controlling law – past payments for adult children cannot be used to offset current child-support payments.

Horst determined that a parent is required to, if necessary, sacrifice to support minor dependent children, but is not required to sacrifice to support sending an older child to college or post-high school training.

The case involved a father who claimed that a court failed to consider his voluntary contribution toward his son’s tuition at Drexel University when making an award for support to the minor dependent children. The court found the father’s claim to be without merit. The court said that continuing the older child’s education cannot diminish the father’s primary duty to provide for the dependent children before “reaching into the financial pool to educate the older child.”

The court found that the minor-child support takes precedence over college support and the basic needs of the minor dependent cannot be reduced to allow for college support when funds are not adequate for both.

Reference: Max Mitchell, Pennsylvania Law Weekly, 37 PLW 482 (May 27, 2014)

Filed Under: Family Law: Child Support; College Payments

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