No Obligation to Support Adult College Student Son despite MSA

No Obligation to Support Adult College Student Son despite MSA
In Edwards v. Edwards, the California Court of Appeals, in an April 22, 2008 partially published decision, held that there was no obligation to support a son, pursuant to a marital settlement agreement which provided for continued child support until the son graduated college or reached the age of 25, where the son was in neither parent’s custody, was attending college, financed most of his living expense from financial aid and grants. In that case, Respondent/ child support obligor Oscar L. Edwards appealed an order denying his motion to terminate child support or to reduce it to zero based on a change of circumstances. In response to Oscar's motion, the trial court reduced child support for his adult son, Oscar Jr., from $700 per month to $432 per month, pursuant to the statewide uniform guideline for determining child support. (Fam. Code, § 4055) The issue presented to the California Court of appeals was whether the “statutory support guideline” applied to a competent adult child who has moved away to college where there was a marital settlement agreement which provided for extended support. Normally, child support payments are calculated using a formula known as the statutory support guideline. Also generally, child support obligation terminates when the child reaches the age of majority or graduates from high school whichever comes later. In this case, the parent’s divorce agreement and judgment allows for continued support of their son after 18 until he graduates college or reaches the age of 25. The California Court of Appeals held that in these circumstances, where neither parent retains "primary physical responsibility" (§ 4055, subd. (b)(1)(D)) for the adult child for any percentage of time, the guideline formula, by its terms, is inapplicable. Stated another way, application of the guideline formula "would be unjust or inappropriate" under the particular circumstances of this case. (Family Code § 4057, subd. (b)(5).) One of the essential factors in calculating child support pursuant to the guideline is the "approximate percentage of time that the high earner has or will have primary physical responsibility for the children compared to the other parent." (Family Code § 4055, subd. (b)(1)(D).) In Edwards it turns out that neither parent retains "primary physical responsibility" for the son for any period of time. The son turned 18 and is not in the custody of either parent. The son relocated to San Francisco to attend college and resided in a dorm and later in an apartment. In addition, mother does not have the need for support because the son finances most of his education and living expenses from student loans and grants. Finally, the marital settlement agreements obligated the parents to share equally in the son’s educational expenses including living expenses.

Please note that this article is not legal advice and is not intended as legal advice. The article is intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information. This article is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. This article does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Kenneth U. Reyes, P.C. This article is not a solicitation.

Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes was President of the Philippine American Bar Association for 2005. He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Mr. Reyes is a Certified Family Law Specialist. He is a graduate of Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles and California State University, San Bernardino School of Business Administration. He has extensive former CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, P.C. is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail; visit at

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