Residents of Maryland who are ordered to pay child support are currently only obligated to make payments until their children become legal adults, but a new state bill could change that. The Maryland House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote soon on HB 986, which would require noncustodial parents to pay child support during their children's college years if passed.
The bill would only require parents to pay if their children are attending a college or are pursuing another source of post-secondary education. Support would automatically be terminated once the child reaches age 21.
Several other states have implemented similar laws, though one state voted down a similar measure in 2010 after receiving complaints from voters. The U.S. Supreme Court has never issued a ruling on bills that require parents to pay child support for adult children, allowing state laws regarding the matter to vary considerably. Maryland's proposed law has drawn little scrutiny so far, but commentators have raised concerns about possible negative consequences.
Two observers have noted that the Maryland bill could force parents to provide financial support to children over whom they have no control. In some cases, noncustodial parents may be required to make payments to the custodial parents instead of the child or the child's college. One writer and attorney explained that adult children who are ungrateful or disrespectful toward a noncustodial parent would still be entitled to support. He argued that courts could burden aging parents with support payments.
But if a custodial parent is paying for a child's college, would it not make sense to compel a noncustodial parent to have to share in that cost?
Source: Open Market, "Maryland Weighs Discriminatory College Child Support Mandate," Hans Bader, Feb. 14, 2012