Father Ordered to Contribute Toward Child’s College Expenses

In a decision rendered earlier this year, the Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed a trial court order requiring a father to pay post secondary educational expenses even though no finding had been made that the parties would have provided support for college expenses had the family remained intact.  The parties in this action obtained an uncontested divorce in 2007.  Pursuant to the terms of their separation agreement, the court retained jurisdiction “to allocate between the parties any and all college tuition and expenses incurred on behalf of the minor child…”

In 2009, the mother filed a motion seeking contribution toward college expenses from the child’s father.  The court, presumably after a hearing, ordered the father to pay the mother $100 per week until the child reached the age of eighteen, and thereafter $100 per week directly to the institution.  If and when the father regained employment, his payments were to increase to $160 per week.  The order automatically expired after the child’s first year.

The summer immediately preceding the child’s sophomore year, the mother filed a second motion, requesting an increase in the father’s contribution, as well as an extension for the remainder of the child’s education.  After a hearing, the court ordered each party to pay $9,334.50 for the upcoming school year.  In the event the father did not receive an expected worker’s compensation or personal injury settlement, he was to pay $100 per week.

The husband appealed, claiming that in the underlying action, the court failed to make an express finding that had the family remained intact, the parties would have provided support for college expenses, as required by C.G.S.A. § 46b-56c(c).  Although the Appellate Court agreed, it found the absence of the finding to be harmless error.  The Court noted that at one point, the husband offered money from savings bonds in lieu of an educational support order, suggesting his intention to contribute toward the child’s college expenses.  The Court also noted that the father never argued that he would not have provided financial support for the child’s college education.  Rather, he focused on his inability to pay the amount requested by the wife.  Additionally, the Court found that the husband never request that he be excused from contributing; he only requested that he be excused from contributing until he returned to work.  Based on the foregoing, the Appellate Court found that the lower court implicitly recognized an intention by the father to provide support for college expenses.  Glenn v. Glenn, 133 Conn. App. 397 (2012).  In fact, the Appellate Court went one step further stating that in light of the facts and circumstances, had the lower court found that the father would not have provided support for the child’s college education, such a finding would have been clearly erroneous.

By: Michael D. DeMeola, Esq.

Should you have any questions regarding educational support orders, or divorce matters in general, please feel free to contact Attorney Joesph Maya He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at JMaya@mayalaw.com.
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