Copyright © 2002, Judicial Branch, State of Connecticut. All rights reserved. 

Educational Support Orders

Legislative History of Public Act 02-128

 

Title: An Act Concerning Education Support Orders

Purpose: To help children of divorced parents afford higher education

 

Compiler’s Note

OLR Bill Analysis

Summary

Effective date

Educational support orders

Court considerations

Parental involvement in school selection

Student obligations

Modifying orders

Background

Committee action

Bill history

Testimony at public hearing

David Hemond

Leslie Brett

Rep. Urban

Gerald Roisman

Amy Miller

Beverley Brakeman

Kate Hoakensen

Linnea Lindstrom

Patricia Walsh

Kelly Walsh

Josh Lyons

Report on bills favorably reported by Committee

Schedule A

House of Representatives, April 26, 2002

Schedule B

House of Representative, May 6, 2002

Senate proceedings

Public Act 02-128

 

 

Compiler’s Note

2002 Conn. Acts 128 (Reg. Sess)

 

 

This is a preliminary compilation of the legislative history of P.A. 02-128.an act concerning educational support orders. It was compiled from the unedited text and no official page numbers were available.

 

Public Hearing. On March 4, 2002, a public hearing was held before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary at which David Hemond, Leslie Brett, Rep. Urban, Gerald Roisman, Amy Miller, Beverley Brakeman, Kate Hoakensen, Linnea Lindstrom, Patricia Walsh, Kelly Walsh and Josh Lyons gave oral testimony in support of Substitute for Raised House Bill No. 5088. Written testimony was not available at the time of this compiliation.

 

Committee Report. The bill was subsequently given a joint favorable report by the Joint Committee.

 

Floor Debate. An amendment (Schedule A) was offered and following debate on the floor of the House of Representatives was passed temporarily with this amendment on April 26, 2002. On May 6th a second amendment (Schedule B) was offered and on May 6, 2002 and following debate passed the bill as amended by both House amendments.

 

Senate Action. On May 8, 2002 the Senate also passed the bill as amended by both House amendments.

 

Public Act. The bill was designated Public Act 02-128 and will be effective October 1, 2002.

 

 

 

Lawrence Cheeseman

Supervising Law Librarian

Connecticut Judicial Branch

Law Library at Middletown

One Court Street

Middletown, CT 06457

(860) 343-6560

 


OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5088

AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ORDERS

 

 

SUMMARY:

This bill permits judges and family support magistrates to order divorcing parents and fathers subject to paternity orders to support their offspring who enroll in accredited college or vocational programs after high school until they reach age 23. It specifies criteria the court must consider and conditions the parents and students must satisfy. It applies to cases where the first child support order is entered on or after October 1, 2002. Parents must ask the court to enter such orders, and can do so at any time before the child's 23rd birthday.

 

The bill states that it does not create a right of action by a child for parental support for higher education and that its coverage does not include support for graduate or post-graduate education.

 

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2002

 

EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ORDERS

Under the bill, an educational support order is an order entered by a court requiring a parent to provide support for a child or children to attend an institution of higher education or a private occupational school for the purpose of attaining a bachelor's degree, other undergraduate degree, or other appropriate vocational instruction. Orders terminate when the child reaches age 23, or, if this occurs during the academic year, at the end of that period.

 

Orders may include support for any necessary educational expense, including room, board, dues, tuition, books, fees, registration and application costs, and medical and dental expenses including health insurance. The court can order that payments be made (1) to a parent to be forwarded to the college or school, (2) directly to the educational institution, or (3) otherwise as the court determines to be appropriate.

 

COURT CONSIDERATIONS

 

In determining whether to enter an educational support order, the court must consider all relevant circumstances. Under the bill, these include:

1. the parents' income, assets, and other obligations;

2. the child's need for support to attend school, taking into account his own assets and earning capacity;

3. the availability of financial aid from other sources, including grants and loans;

4. the reasonableness of the higher education to be funded, considering the child's academic record and the financial resources available;

5. the likelihood that the parents would have provided support to the child for higher education if the family were intact; and

6. the child's preparation for, aptitude for, and commitment to higher education; and

7. any evidence about the school the child would attend.

 

PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT IN SCHOOL SELECTION

 

The bill requires, at the appropriate time, that both parents discuss and agree on what school the child will attend. If they do not agree, the matter may be resolved by court order.

 

STUDENT'S OBLIGATIONS

 

Under the bill, to qualify for payments under an educational support order, the student must:

1. enroll in an accredited institution of higher education or private occupational school on at least a half-time basis and pursue a course of study commensurate with his vocational goals,

2. maintain good academic standing in accordance with the school's rules, and

3. make all academic records available to both parents during the term of the

order.

Orders must be suspended after any academic period during which the child fails to comply with these conditions.

 

MODIFYING ORDERS

 

The bill makes existing criteria and procedures for modifying support orders applicable to educational support orders, including the requirement that the party seeking the modification show a substantial change in circumstances.

 

BACKGROUND

 

Voluntary Agreements to Provide Support

Legislation passed last year (PA 01-135) permits courts to modify divorcing parties' written agreements for the care, education, maintenance, or support of children over age 18. That law applies to agreements made on and after July 1, 2001 that have been incorporated in or made part of divorce decrees.

 

 

COMMITTEE ACTION

 

Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

      Yea 36     Nay 4

Bill History

Substitute for Raised H.B. 5088

 

 

 

Introducer(s):
Judiciary Committee

Title: AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ORDERS.

Statement of Purpose: To help children of divorced parents afford higher education.

Bill History:

02/08/02 REFERRED TO JOINT COMMITTEE ON Judiciary Committee
02/28/02 PUBLIC HEARING 03/04
03/25/02 JOINT FAVORABLE SUBSTITUTE
03/25/02 FILED WITH LEGISLATIVE COMMISSIONERS' OFFICE
04/04/02 REFERRED TO OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH AND OFFICE OF FISCAL ANALYSIS 04/09/02-5:00 PM
04/10/02 REPORTED OUT OF LEGISLATIVE COMMISSIONERS' OFFICE
04/10/02 FAVORABLE REPORT, TABLED FOR THE CALENDAR, HOUSE
04/10/02 HOUSE CALENDAR NUMBER 262
04/10/02 FILE NUMBER 432
04/26/02 HOUSE ADOPTED HOUSE AMENDMENT SCHEDULE A:LCO-3781
04/26/02 BILL PASSED TEMPORARILY
05/06/02 HOUSE ADOPTED HOUSE AMENDMENT SCHEDULE B:LCO-4634
05/06/02 HOUSE PASSED AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENT SCHEDULE A,B
05/06/02 TRANSMITTED PURSUANT TO THE JOINT RULES
05/06/02 FAVORABLE REPORT, TABLED FOR THE CALENDAR, SENATE
05/06/02 SENATE CALENDAR NUMBER 462
05/08/02 SENATE ADOPTED HOUSE AMENDMENT SCHEDULE A,B
05/08/02 SENATE PASSED AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENT SCHEDULE A,B
05/17/02 PUBLIC ACT 02-128
05/23/02 TRANSMITTED TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
06/07/02 SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR <B

 

  

Co-sponsor(s):

Rep. Diana S. Urban, 43rd Dist.

Rep. Peter A. Nystrom, 46th Dist.

Rep. Barnaby Horton, 2nd Dist.

Rep. Arthur J. O'Neill, 69th Dist.

Rep. Art J. Feltman, 6th Dist.

Rep. Steven Mikutel, 45th Dist.

Rep. Christopher R. Stone, 9th Dist.

Rep. Nancy Beals, 88th Dist.

Rep. Bob Godfrey, 110th Dist.

Rep. Roger Brian Michele, 77th Dist.

Rep. Sonya Googins, 31st Dist.

Sen. Catherine W. Cook, 18th Dist.

Rep. Christopher S. Murphy, 81st Dist.

Sen. Kevin B. Sullivan, 5th Dist.

Sen. Thomas A. Colapietro, 31st Dist.

Sen. Biagio Ciotto, 9th Dist.

Sen. Gary D. LeBeau, 3rd Dist.

Sen. Bill Finch, 22nd Dist.

Sen. Edith G. Prague, 19th Dist.

Sen. Thomas A. Bozek, 6th Dist.

Sen. John A. Kissel, 7th Dist.

Sen. Win Smith, 14th Dist.

Sen. Mary Ann Handley, 4th Dist.

 

 


Joint Committee Testimony

Public Hearing

Oral Testimony

March 4, 2002

 

JUDICIARY COMMITTEE 11:30 A.M.

 

 

PRESIDING CHAIRMAN: Representative Lawlor

MEMBERS PRESENT:

SENATORS: Coleman, Looney, Kissel,

              Daily, Finch, Roraback

REPRESENTATIVES: Feltman, Farr, Abrams, Amann, Berger, Bernhard, Cafero, Cocco, Conway, Dandrow, DeMarinis, Doyle, Fox, Fritz, Godfrey, Green, Hamm, Hamzy, Hyslop, Klarides, Martinez, Nystrom, O'Neill, Powers, Rowe, Spallone, Staples, Stone, Winkler

 

 

DAVID HEMOND

Staff attorney with the Law Revision Commission

 

DAVID HEMOND: Good afternoon. I'm Dave Hemond. I'm a staff attorney with the Law Revision Commission. I'd like to testify briefly on two bills. I have submitted written testimony     on both bills. First is H.B. 5088, which is, AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ORDERS. The Law Revision Commission was asked by the Judiciary Committee to look at how to address the issue of children of divorced parents obtaining funding for college, post majority. The age of majority in Connecticut is 18. If parents are divorced, some of those children are unable to attend college because of a lack of funding. The Commission looked at this issue nationwide. It's an issue that has split jurisdictions. Twenty-nine states, including Connecticut, the basic age of majority limits the ability of the court to order support orders that would include educational support for college. Twenty-one states do have provisions that allow majority support, post majority support. We, in our written report, tried to analyze the issues of what other states  have done, some of the concerns. One of the concerns is that there is no state that would require that parents generally, parents of intact families pay for educational support past the age of majority of their children. So there is an issue of having a differentiation of standards. On the other hand, it is the context, both anecdotally and there was some evidence that it is the children of divorced and single parents who are most likely to     have this problem and so there is an issue of how to address that balance. And the Commission report does include a draft bill that would address that situation.

 

***************************************************************

 

REP. LAWLOR: Representative Farr.

REP. FARR: On the H.B. 5088, the educational support orders. The proposal that we've got now says that the support obligation will - for educational support, I believe, goes to 23. Is that correct?

DAVID HEMOND: That's correct.

REP. FARR: Now, if a couple has a child and that child goes away to college, and they're an intact family, and a couple of years later they get a divorce, does this say that you can then, even though the child now is, let's say 20, and the couple has never paid any of the educational costs, one of the parties can now go back and say, wait a minute, we've got to pick up this educational cost in the future? Or does this only apply to cases where the divorce occurs when the child is still a minor?

DAVID HEMOND: I believe that as it's drafted it only applies to a divorce with a child who is below the age of majority. It doesn't address a situation where the child is already at college. Although I'm not absolutely certain of that and I would have to look at the language.

REP. FARR: And do you know, is that the pattern that most states follow?

DAVID HEMOND: That is the pattern of most states, yes.

REP. FARR: So you end up with this inequity of the - you have three children and one is 18 and one 17, one is 18 and one is 20. Now if the 18 year old is still getting support because of the fact that they haven't graduated from high school, are they then eligible for an educational order, support order?

DAVID HEMOND: Again, I'd have to look at the drafting language. I'm not sure. There is clearly this underlying issue of differentiating between intact families and non-intact families. There's a secondary issue that generally speaking, once you reach the age of majority, people are held to be responsible for their own debts and this bill would not create a right for that child, post majority, to come back and apply for the post-majority order. It's a right between parents, essentially, to enforce the court with respect to the other child or with respect to the other parent to make sure that both parents contribute towards this college education. So, there are clearly some complexities here.

REP. FARR: And do you know, did you finally resolve how this affects financial aid? In other words, when people go and apply for a financial aid package, I know that the aid programs are all over the lot as to - I've been told that in some forms of aid you include your - only the income of people in the household. Some institutions include step-parents' income. Some require the income of a parent whose not in the household. If there's an order for support, does that have any impact on financial aid?

DAVID HEMOND: As you say, how the institutions do this is all over the lot. The federal institutions, as I understand it, this would not effect the rights to the federal grants or federal aid, but with respect to private institutions, they're going to look at whatever assets are available to the extent there's an award of a certain asset. Depending on the institution, they may take that into account and quite simply, different institutions do this differently.

REP. FARR: Okay. Thank you.

SEN. COLEMAN: Are there further questions? Representative Hamm and then Representative Stone.

REP. HAMM: Would you catch me up again on the law in other states? I'm trying to quickly review what you've written and I'm not clear. In those states where post-majority support is ordered, is it statutory or by case law?

DAVID HEMOND: It depends on the state.

REP. HAMM: I guess I'm just -- generally, what does the majority do?

DAVID HEMOND: In the written testimony, I did count that out and I think it's here.

REP. HAMM: You say 29 don't --

DAVID HEMOND: As I recall, it's about half and half in terms of whether it's statutory or whether it's by court order.

REP. HAMM: Or case law.

DAVID HEMOND: Yes.

REP. HAMM: And when you say 29 states have the age of majority stop at 18 or 19 perhaps with the high school, that would be the majority of states?

DAVID HEMOND: That's correct.

REP. HAMM: And so of the others, can we infer and conclude that there's a prohibition? In other words, of the 29 that say that the child support stops at the same as ours does, which is the majority, we then can infer that the majority of states do not permit post-majority support. Is that a fair --

DAVID HEMOND: What they do not permit is for a court to order post-majority support. That would be correct.

REP. HAMM: Okay.

DAVID HEMOND: Now, in the case of Connecticut, we actually have two exceptions in which a court can order a post-majority support. One is with respect to allowing a child to graduate high school, reach 19. And the other is with respect to certain disabled children. So Connecticut already has a very limited set of provisions under which we allow post-majority support.

REP. HAMM: I guess I'm just trying to figure out where we are in the scheme of what the rest of the country is doing.

DAVID HEMOND: We're basically in the majority which says that the age of majority is where the right to order support terminates.

REP. HAMM: Except for those two exceptions?

DAVID HEMOND: Except for those two exceptions. So we've slightly crossed the border, but --

REP. HAMM: So we are probably a little more progressive than the rest of the country by creating those two exceptions?

DAVID HEMOND: It depends again on whether - there are legitimate concerns to doing this. So I'm not sure whether it's progressive or not, but in terms of providing for support for some post-majority children for college, if that's progressive, then we're slightly more progressive.

REP. HAMM: Were you able to find any law review or legal periodical that had the discussion of intact families versus children of divorce?

DAVID HEMOND: There's actually quite a bit of written material. We have collected that. I'd be happy to send that to you.

REP. HAMM: If there's a good summary of the discussion as a policy matter, I would like to take a look at that.

DAVID HEMOND: What there is not -- I mean, there tend to be people who are in favor of a proposal and give you the reasons why and give you anecdotal reasons why this is something that's important. In terms of any good information out there as to what the real economics are and how the real long term impact of this, I don't think there's much of that.

REP. HAMM: Okay. Well, get me whatever you think is the best summary.

DAVID HEMOND: I will do that.

REP. HAMM: Thank you.

SEN. COLEMAN: Representative Stone.

REP. STONE: Thank you, Senator. Good afternoon, Dave. On H.B. 5088, you list in the bill, under Section C, those factors that the court would look to make a determination on whether to award post-majority support for college education. You list factors one through six. And I note that one of the factors, factor number five, seems to me, anyway, to be one of the more critical of the six. You don't weigh these factors in any particular order of importance, do you?

DAVID HEMOND: No, there's no weighing and again, this - the real policy of how you do this is very difficult. We discussed these factors at length. We looked at what some of the other state statutes do. But there really are arguments pro and con on such issues as whether, in fact, it's relevant. For example, looking at number five, whether, in fact, parents would have done it or wouldn't have done it. And how you measure that or how a judges gets the evidence to do that. I mean, it's really one of the problems or one of the issues that faces the proposal. We thought it was important to try and get the criteria -- the purposes of the proposal so that you can discuss it and what people thought was important.

REP. STONE: I happened to think and I've discussed this with some of my colleagues and some of the advocates that that is probably one of the more important factors and I called it the "but for test", but for the fact that there was a dissolution of marriage, the child or children would have been supported by their parents in post-majority education.

DAVID HEMOND: I think one of the issues there becomes how does the court know that after the factor at the time that they're --

REP. STONE: No question about it. Absolutely. But I guess, was there any thought of the Law Revision Commission to take that particular factor, factor number B-5, I'm sorry, C-5, taking that as sort of --taking that out and making that a threshold of determination for the court and once that determination is made, one way or the other, then move on to the criteria set forth in one through four in number six?

DAVID HEMOND: There actually was some discussion of that. This is how they ended up, but I can't really judge what's better.

REP. STONE: Do you know, if you could, what the - those who opposed taking this particular factor out and setting it up as a threshold determination by the court, do you know the reason for their opposition was, if you recall?

DAVID HEMOND: Yeah, I think one of the concerns was if you're sitting as a judge, how do you obtain information on what they really would have done in a situation where you really - judges have discretion here to decide what they think is best under these circumstances and, obviously, if you're a parent in a proceeding where the judge is trying to ask you what would you do? You're asking a hypothetical. The person may, in fact, not know themselves or it maybe contingent on a number of other factors and I think that was the primary concern.

REP. STONE: Certainly one way to determine that issue would be to ask the parents, obviously, but also the factor such as setting up educational accounts, educational IRA accounts, whether other siblings, as Representative Farr pointed out, other older siblings had been supported in college by their parents, whether the parents had gone to college, whether there was some sort of, for the lack of a better word, "family tradition" of going to college. So, as difficult as it might be, at least I consider that factor to be     something that should be resolved initially before the court gets into any of the other five factors. But I guess we'll continue the dialogue and if you have any information on other aspects of the opposition, I'd like to have it, if you have some internal memorandum or something, I'd like to see that. Thanks, Dave. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. COLEMAN: Thank you, Representative Stone. Further questions for Attorney Hemond? Representative Farr.

REP. FARR: I'm sorry to go back a second time, but as I read the bill, it talks about that the order may be entered when entering an original decree or any time thereafter. Is that what this is saying? That you could -- even after you dissolve the marriage, you could go back and seek an order?

DAVID HEMOND: I'm not certain how to read that. That language suggests to me that you might be able to do this even until the child is 23. Clearly, to 23 would be a limitation and I need to look at that.

REP. FARR: I guess it's a little concerning - a big concern to me that I think that people terminate the marriage and think they've resolved all of the issues and then one of the parties can come back years later and say oh, by the way, now let's talk about college education. Am I also correct in assuming that there's no cap in terms of obligations here? Is that correct? So that the - if you find your youngster is going to the most expensive college in the country, you maybe stuck with paying that up to the expense of -- annual expense of doing that. Is that correct?

DAVID HEMOND: There's no cap here, that's correct.

REP. FARR: Do other states have caps?

DAVID HEMOND: I believe some states do have caps, yes.

REP. FARR: And do other states allow this motion to be made after the final judgment?

DAVID HEMOND: I believe that some do not. We looked at -- there are about eight or nine other state statutes and again, in fact, I would note that we recently suggested to the Uniform Laws Conference that this might be an issue that they might like to look at as an area where we could use a model law precisely because every state does it slightly differently and so I just can't generalize on what those are in different states, but I think you're right, there are caps, there are clearly states where they say it's once you make the order at the time of the divorce, that's it. On the other hand, there are generally rights to modify orders right now and other situations.

REP. FARR: But today if you did not get an order of alimony at the time of the decree, you wouldn't be able to seek it later or modify it. As I read this, if you didn't get an order of support for higher education, you could seek it later on.

DAVID HEMOND: I think that's how this is drafted right here. Again, really this has to be looked at as a basis for discussion as to what policy issues you want to go forward with.

REP. FARR: Okay, thank you.

REP. LAWLOR: Are there further questions? If not, thank you very much.

DAVID HEMOND: Thank you.

 

 

LESLIE BRETT

 

Executive Director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women

 

If I may, I'd like to turn my attention to the educational support order bill. Again, you've heard significant testimony. We support this bill which would give the courts the authority to include an order for both parents, either following a divorce or other unmarried parents to contribute to the support of college or other post-secondary education and related expenses for their children up to the age of 23. Although some divorced and unmarried parents willingly share these expenses, in other cases the burden falls heavily on the custodial parent and the child. Moreover, in some divorce disputes, the real problem is faced earlier     when the parties are negotiating their divorce agreement. Knowing that the judge does not have the authority to order such support, the non-custodial parent can bargain more aggressively on this issue. At the PCSW we have heard stories from divorcing mothers who felt that they were forced to give up some other major items in the divorce. A more equitable share of the house, for example, or other assets in order to obtain an agreement for shared support later of college expenses.

 

If I could, I'd like to respond to a few questions that I just heard in the discussion with the prior witness. First of all, the question came up about whether the judge can order the support once the child is already in college if the divorce were to occur at that stage in life. And I think, as the bill is written, that is the case, the judge could order that, but must consider all the equitable factors that you have in this bill. If it's reasonable, if the child has expenses, if the parents are able to share those expenses and so on, it could be part of a divorce settlement just as all the other factors in the divorce proceedings could be considered.

 

Representative Stone, you were asking before about whether we should elevate the one factor about the "but for" factor that you referred to before about would the family, had it been intact, order the support. And I think it's important that that factor be included in this bill as one of the five that's included. I have a concern. You asked what some of the concerns might be. That we didn't want any kind of consideration that would automatically dismiss people who were less than middle class and give too easy an opportunity for judges to say this family would never send their kid to college. We know that some families who have never had a child in college before really want to send their child to college make heroic efforts to send their child to college or to some other vocational post-secondary education. So we don't want to set something up first that sort of replicates the sort of differentiation between middle class and people who are not middle class. So this family would not have sent their child to college. Therefore we don't have to consider this petition. Of course, it is still within the realm of the judge's discretion to consider a variety of factors. That's still in there, but we didn't want it to be the first threshold that might unfairly discount the petitions of some parents. And remembering also that one of the parents has to petition for this and has to make a case that they are able to contribute their share and that both parties have some ability to contribute to the post-secondary education.

 

Finally, I wanted to comment on the question about caps. I think that caps for the amount of money that can be awarded should be left to the discretion of judges. It's not that the award can say the child can go to any school for any amount of money, but I don't know that you would want to put an actual numerical cap in the statute because this bill, of course, has to apply equally to families of all economic statuses, those who have lots of resources and those who have less. But certainly a judge can establish a reasonable cap when he or she makes such an order.

 

To conclude my remarks, I just do want to say the beneficiaries of this law, if enacted, would be our children and the future of our state's economy. We really expect both parents, if they are able, to share equally in the responsibilities of raising their children and giving them the opportunities that they need. And post-secondary education is often the doorway to a successful adult life. So we hope that you'll support this bill and encourage both parents to share equally in those responsibilities.Thank you.

 

REP. LAWLOR: Representative Farr.

REP. FARR: I just have -- the cap issue, first of all. What used to be a standard cap that was put in agreements was that the parties would share in the educational cost, either proportionately or at some formula up to the tuition fees at the University of Connecticut. Then allowed some sort of cap if the youngster wanted to go to a private school or substantially more, the parties could agree to pay for that, but at least it was some - the parties weren't going to get stuck with having the child go to the most expensive institute in the country. I guess the other question here though is, as drafted, am I correct in saying that -- is it possible for the parties to agree in a divorce decree, for example, that there will not be any obligation for higher education costs imposed by the court? And then one of the parties comes back and says well, I've changed my mind, now I want it?

LESLIE BRETT: For the absolutely legal correct answer on that, I hope that the family lawyers who are coming after me will be able to answer. I do know that divorce decrees are modifiable and this would be modifiable, as well if one of the parties can show a significant change of circumstances. It's not a whimsical, I just want to change my mind-kind of modifiability. But there has to be some threshold requirements met. Whether you can, in advance, foreclose or waive certain kinds of agreements and have that be put in a judgement, I just don't know.

REP. FARR: Okay, thank you.

REP. LAWLOR: Are there other questions? Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: Thank you. I have a question, if I could, with respect to H.B. 5088 and I can certainly understand your frustration, your concern because I think many times in a domestic case it is the person with the primary support obligation or maintenance support of the child, that more often now is the woman who frequently has difficulty because she has to give something else up to get the education or something she has to fuss with the former partner on for many years to come. But I'm concerned also about the concept of finality. And I think when one reads the bill, in one's mind is conjured up the concept of a child or children who are in their teens and who are about ready to start looking at or going to college. But as I understand it, if, in fact I am divorced today and I have a two  year old child and as part of my obligation, I am not obligated to pay for that child's education. That's going to be dealt with, hopefully, by the parents outside the court order. Some 16 years from that point, I can be looking at a motion for modification to change the obligation that I would have with respect to the college education of that child or children. Am I reading that bill correctly?

LESLIE BRETT: I'm looking at my legal experts for a little bit of help. Your question is, is it retroactive to apply to divorce agreements that are already in place today?

REP. FOX: No. I'm saying -- well, that's a good question. I hadn't thought of that one, but that certainly is a question. What's the answer to that?

LESLIE BRETT: What's the answer to that?

REP. FELTMAN: The answer to that question is no.

LESLIE BRETT: No, it's not.

REP. FOX: Okay.

LESLIE BRETT: I'm looking at a few of the family lawyers.

REP. FOX: Okay. With respect to a divorced -- let's assume it's the law as we sit here.

LESLIE BRETT: Today.

REP. FOX: Okay. I enter into an agreement --

LESLIE BRETT: Correct.

REP. FOX: -- where I am not obligated to pay for the college education of my two year old.

LESLIE BRETT: Right.

REP. FOX: Sixteen years from now I could be facing that?

LESLIE BRETT: Okay. That, I believe, I know the answer to which is that it's modifiable under the same threshold as other parts of the agreement which is that one of the parties has to show an unforeseen change of circumstances. You can't just come back and say oops, we forgot this or oops, we changed our minds. But something else has had to have happened in the family or the economic circumstances of this family that a judge would consider a change of circumstances.

REP. FOX: Like in 16 years I'm making more money?

LESLIE BRETT: Well, significantly in a way that was not foreseen, like you won the lottery.

REP. FOX: I don't think foreseen is any longer the standard. I think it's a substantial change in circumstances.

LESLIE BRETT: You're correct. Thank you.

REP. FOX: Okay.

LESLIE BRETT: I'm sorry. It has to be a substantial change of circumstances.

REP. FOX: Okay. And if, in fact -- if, in fact I had an agreement to pay what is commonly referred, for example, as the UConn clause, "x" number of dollars and my planning goes into that, sixteen years from now I could end up arguing about whether or not I've got to pay for Princeton.

LESLIE BRETT: Uh-hum. Well again, my only comment on that is that you'd have to convince a judge in the same way that people have to convince a judge now if they want to change a child support arrangement, any other child support arrangement or some other kinds of agreement that would take place later in a divorce decree. These things are possible for changes of circumstances, but they're not easy. And it's usually harder for the petitioning party to make their case unless there's some clear reason that the order should be changed.

REP. FOX: But in many instances there's no finality to the deal I thought I made.

LESLIE BRETT: Uh-hum. And if something is modifiable, that's correct. I mean, I'm imagining and this is just making some assumptions about how practice may go forward, that for many families a plan will be put in place that sets up some sort of saving accounts, some sort of purchase of a bond, something that actually puts this into play at the time that the parties divorce so that, in fact, by the time the child is 18, there will be the ability to send him or her to post-secondary education, but that doesn't answer your question. Somebody could come and say change of circumstances.

REP. FOX: I guess I'm concerned because, although I have a great deal of sympathy for your fact pattern, I don't want us or at least I would hope we would not have a major change in public policy because of those instances where this would be appropriate. And my question, what I'm leading to is whether or not you have any empirical data or statistics which would evidence when this legislation would be appropriate? In other words, I don't want to change law because of a few bad apples. I mean, there are also parents out there who don't enter into an obligation to support or pay for college education and do so. There are also those that the only way you're ever going to get them to pay for college education is if you make it part of the deal. And if we have one that can effect both the good people and the bad people, I don't know how good a public policy that is and that's a little troubling to me.

LESLIE BRETT: Representative Fox, I'd also like to suggest that even within the realm of what we might think of as good people who do make a good deal about college, the negotiation in the first place was unequal and unfair because the parties knew that the judge couldn't order the child to be -- educational support after age 18. And so deals were made that might have been imbalanced or unfair in the first place because under the guidance of the attorneys everybody bargains as best they can knowing what the court has the authority to do and what the court doesn't have the authority to do. So this would level that out even for the families who are trying their best to make a deal at the beginning of the process.

REP. FOX: I guess I'm trying to get a handle on how many instances there are like that, where the leverage is used in a bad way.

LESLIE BRETT: Yeah, I certainly don't have a number. I know I've been working with the various family attorneys who are part of this process and we hear from women all the time at the Commission on Women who are struggling about trying to get some kind of reasonable deal for sending their children to post-secondary education and don't have a number.

REP. FOX: Okay, thank you.

REP. LAWLOR: Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: Yes, just one follow-up question to the first question that Representative Fox was asking. In terms of substantial change of circumstances, wouldn't it be true that a father or a non-custodial parent, assuming it's the father, could petition the court if there was an order that was, for example, an uncapped order for to share expenses for any post-secondary school, whether it be private or public and his financial circumstances changed so that he could no longer afford that? Would he not also be able to show substantial change of circumstances to come back in and get a reduction?

LESLIE BRETT: Absolutely. Either party, of course, can petition and the change of circumstances could be on the positive side or as you say, on the negative side and that party would have as much right to petition for a change and say I just can't afford it, I lost my job, I've become ill or disabled, whatever the case may be.

REP. FELTMAN: Thank you.

REP. LAWLOR: Further questions? If not, thanks very much.

 

 

REP. URBAN

 

This is an ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ORDERS. I am a divorced mom. I do have a son who is in college and fortunately, my son's education is being paid for by my parents and my grandparents. However, I'm not here this morning in front of you as a mom. I'm here this morning in front of you as an economist and what I'd like to say to you as an economist is we look at resources in our economy and in essence we talk about land, labor, and capital, where one of the facets of capital is human capital and when we're looking at human capital, we're looking at the level of education within our society. The higher the level of education, the more productivity we see in our society and the more economic growth we see in our society. I'm sure you have all heard about the transition that's taking place in the economy of the United States. We are no longer a manufacturing based economy. We're looking at service based and technologically based. This requires an ever increasing level of education. Without this education, you will be lost in the global system that is developing. The United States is a leader in the technological areas, not in the manufacturing areas. (SOME TESTIMONY NOT RECORDED DUE TO THE FACT THAT TAPES WERE BEING CHANGED FROM TAPE 1 TO TAPE 2) accepted the responsibility of paying for them to continue their education, we not only do a disservice to the children, but we do a disservice to the future of our country. I cite a study by Judith Wallerstein on "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce", in which she points out that in families where the homes are intact, this problem is worked out within the family. In families where children are divorced, it is consistent that the educational level is not as high as the families that intact. These children will be left behind. They will not be as productive in our society, and we might end up paying more money down the line, as they resort to less desirable ways to earn money. So, I urge you, not from the huggie-kissie perspective, but from the economic perspective, increase productivity, economic growth, and the future of globalism, to support this bill. If you have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them.

REP. LAWLOR: Thank you. Are there questions? If not, thank you very much.

REP. URBAN: Thank you.

 

GERALD ROISMAN

 

CT Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

 

Thank you and good afternoon. I've been asked to speak in support of and I'm happy to be in support of H.B. 5088. It's a curiosity to me that I sit here in support of this bill because when I started practicing law decades ago, the age of majority was 21 and this issue was probably pretty much a non-issue. And during the Vietnam era, historically when the thoughts were sweeping this land that if our people are old enough to die at age 18, they ought to be old enough to drink and they ought to be old enough to vote and it swept this country to reduce the age of majority to age 18. It didn't take very long thereafter to realize that the drinking age at age 18 was causing other problems. So the ramifications of reducing the age of majority to age 18 had serious implications and this issue has been festering ever since. It has not always been the law in Connecticut where the courts in the divorce cases and the dissolution proceedings could not deal with issues of education, post-high school education because, as I say, when I started practicing, the courts could deal with it and we did deal with it. Since that time when the age of majority was reduced, we still do deal with these issues, but we deal with it, as was referred to earlier, in a negotiation and discussion process. If the family has the where with all to deal with the issue, it is very much an issue that's part of the negotiation and discussion process. And while the courts can't specifically deal with it in the sense of a judge deciding that issue, the courts do deal with approving agreements and if the agreements are presented and signed by the parties, the courts approve these agreements. It puts one party or the other in a unfair bargaining position and when you understand that something in excess of 90% of all of these cases get settled and aren't decided by judges, having somebody start out in an unfair bargaining position, I think is ill-advised. This bill attempts to address that issue. I think it does address this issue. It's my information that approximately one-third of our states across this country do deal with this issue. I think it's 17 states that allow the courts in this process to deal with post-high school educational support issues. With regard to some of the questions that were posed earlier, as I happened to be sitting here listening, this bill is in the nature of a support order. So for those questions that were raised regarding the modifiability or non-modifiability, it's my belief and my understanding that support orders cannot be put in place and be rendered non-modifiable. The issues relating to children should always be reviewable and are always reviewable by the court during their minority. Since this would be in the nature of a support order, the court could review this issue so that if an agreement were made at age two to cover the next 16 or 21 years, or whatever, circumstances have changed substantially and the court ought to be able to review that and so should the parties. Sometimes circumstances change with regard -- without regard to somebody doing it intentionally. Circumstances change, as we all know. So I am speaking in support of this on behalf of myself as a practicing attorney for a long time, on behalf of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and all the other legal organizations that deal with these issues of which I'm a member or on the executive committees. That's it.

 

REP. LAWLOR: Thank you very much. Are there questions? Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: Attorney Roisman, thank you for coming before us to testify. What would be your suggestion with respect to children of tender years that when the parents divorce then, if there is not sufficient information about whether or not those children would be suitable for higher education at the time the parents divorced if the kids or four, five, three years old - what would be your suggestion as to how that should be handled and what opportunities the court might make available for their subsequent education support?

GERALD ROISMAN: The court would probably, in those circumstances, say come back and we will review this issue at an appropriate time. The court's not going to issue a blank check to somebody or force somebody to sign a blank check when the child's four or five years old if there's no where with all. If the case involved substantial assets to be divided, there are vehicles that can be created to ensure the educational needs of the child or children. But just as any support order may be entered, if circumstances change, the court can deal with it at the time there's a substantial change in circumstance. This bill would fit right into what the law is today except that it would now include the educational needs.

REP. FELTMAN: Do you believe there should be a -- I'd like to ask a follow-up. Do you believe there should be a place holder at the time of the decree in that case, that educational support orders maybe ordered subsequently, that unless there's some kind of place holder, such as there is with alimony, that at that point it would be considered conclusive on the point if there was no place holder in the divorce decree?

GERALD ROISMAN: I'm not sure what you mean by "place holder".

REP. FELTMAN: A place holder such as $1 a year alimony would be considered a place holder.

GERALD ROISMAN: I don't think that's necessary, but you could clarify it in that fashion, but I don't think it's necessary. Support orders don't require $1 a year order as an alimony order might because support is never forecloseable during the age of minority. Alimony can be terminated or specified or designated with rate specificity, but support orders in this state has always taken a public policy in the interest of the needs of children as compared to the needs of adults. And therefore, my understanding of the law and I believe it to be the law that you cannot foreclose support obligations or you cannot foreclose and put in place permanently visitation and custodial orders. The needs of the children are always addressed at any point during the minority.

REP. FELTMAN: So to go back to the point that Representative Fox raised earlier about whether or not a non-custodial parent entering into a divorce decree, under a new law, let's assume this law takes effect -- in terms of his or her bargaining, they would have to bargain at the time of the decree with anticipation that there maybe a subsequent request for educational support even if there's not one put in place at the time of the decree.

GERALD ROISMAN: That's correct. That's correct. But what we do now, as I think Representative Farr asked an earlier question, now what we do because we don't know where people might be in the future, we may put a cap into their bargaining process and say okay, the obligation will be each party or one of the parties will pay to the extent to what it costs to go to the -- to attend the University of Connecticut or some other institution because we can define those costs as opposed to giving a blank check to go anywhere where the range can be tens of thousands of dollars. I think I've answered the question. If not, I'll try better.

REP. FELTMAN: No, you have. Thank you.

REP. LAWLOR: Representative Farr.

REP. FARR: Good afternoon. Is it your opinion then, as this bill is drafted, that the parties could not contract -- could not agree that there would be no obligation to pay higher educational costs just as they can't agree today that there's no obligation to pay support?

GERALD ROISMAN: I believe that -- yes, because I think this is in the nature of a support order and I don't believe somebody can write away or obligate away or sign away their obligations to support a child, including in the educational field.

REP. FARR: It's really interesting when another State Representative made a comment about progressive states going towards the obligation to pay education above 18. Progressive states, back in 1972 were states that made adults at 18 and went away from 21 to 23 to 18 and now progressive states are supposedly described as those going back in that direction, which I suppose you could also say is regressive, but the interesting thing is we're going to 23, whereas at one point the obligation was 21. Why go to 23 when historically there's never been an obligation above the age of 21?

GERALD ROISMAN: Because as a practical matter, when the usual track for a student to attend college, the graduation time for college is generally age 22. If the usual and I know we don't --

REP. FARR: Unfortunately, the statistics are the average student today takes more than four years to get through. So you're talking graduation times of 23 or 23.

GERALD ROISMAN: Excuse me. I'll yield to your statistics, but nonetheless, the point is that the reason to go beyond the age of 21 is so that you don't get to age 21 and cut it off when a student's a senior in high school - I mean a senior in college and say okay in the middle of that year it's over and the last semester is dangling out there. This doesn't necessarily mean it has to go to 23. This encompasses the situation to deal with those kinds of issues. If you cut it off at an arbitrary age, which I say 21 would be, then you're leaving a part of the same issue of dangling out there as we have to deal with it today.

REP. FARR: And why don't we give a right to the student to seek this support obligation? Why do we only give the right to - I suppose an opposing parent, if you might describe it that way? I mean, this bill talks about either parent can seek support from the other. But if we're talking about a college education and saying that parents have an obligation to do that, why are we allowing a parent to negotiate that away and short change the student if we're really looking at the best interest of the children?

GERALD ROISMAN: I'm not sure you're negotiating that away, but this is in the nature of support and you are dealing with housing and clothing and food, food/shelter/clothing issues in addition to the primary thing here which is the education, clearly. I would submit that it's probably not positive public policy to put a child in a position of having to litigate something with the parent when the parents are on better equal footing and you're dealing with the question of each parent contributing to the education, even though one might be asking for a contribution from the other. The court, under this, would have the jurisdiction to deal with both parents.

REP. FARR: Okay, but that -- I'm just trying to think this process through. For support, the parents can't trade away their support for other things. The court has to review the support order. The court has to be satisfied. There are guidelines we've established for support up until the age of 18. Now we've got a situation where there are no guidelines. We've described this as a support obligation. But we allow the parents to negotiate that away, if I'm not mistaken.

GERALD ROISMAN: Well, that's a way of looking at it. I'm not sure you're negotiating something away. What you're dealing with is an issue that the courts can't deal with today and that generally, one parents is in an unfair bargaining or discussion situation. You're also dealing with a situation today that makes you deal with something that's well in advance of the present needs. If the circumstances allow you to do that, that's great, but in many cases you cannot. So this puts this back into a place where people can address the issues culturally, socially. As a private speaker referred to, you're talking about things that deal with our whole society and the benefit of things that are much bigger than any one case. But it still is in the nature of support and even the educational expenses include support items. Room and board is included.

REP. FARR: But in normal support, we have said that a parent can't go in and say look, I don't want to support - I the house or I want alimony. The court has the obligation to review the support orders. And the court has the ability to say that's not acceptable, as I understand it, that that's not acceptable and you're going to have to pay some support. Are we saying here now that the parties can agree to waive that educational thing and that the court is not going to have the ability to say well, I don't -- we're not going to accept that and we're going to order one or both of the parties to pay educational expenses?

GERALD ROISMAN: I think the way you put the question, I think you cannot sign it away in advance. If the issue can't be dealt with presently, then I think the issue gets a second look. Remember, as a practical matter, parties are going to be discussing these issues. You're talking about those cases where people need help, where somebody may, in all likelihood, is taking advantage one side over the other. We're talking about judges exercising some discretionary economic sense and common sense in terms of educating a child.  If there's insufficient funds to pay for any education, the whole issue is academic. And it's not even going to be presented to the court. So, by the time you get finished with this, the direct answer to your question is, the court, in my opinion, would retain jurisdiction over the issue and take a look at it if and when it's raised.

REP. FARR: What happens if one party says well, forget about the higher education, just give me alimony? And I'll take care of the higher education. Can the court then say, well, that's not acceptable, we're going to require a higher educational order?

GERALD ROISMAN: No. You know, when you deal with that issue and the support and alimony issues being combined or blended, you have IRS questions and un-allocated family support or alimony support. I don't think you can do that by blending orders presently and therefore I don't think you're going to be able to do that when - if and when this bill passes. Unless there is so much that's funding the education, that it's there and it's identified along with this conceptual alimony order you're talking about.

REP. FARR: Okay. Thank you.

REP. FELTMAN: Are there further questions? Representative Powers.

REP. POWERS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for your testimony this afternoon.  I think the previous questioner's line of questioning is exactly why this is being presented as support and a continuation of support from 18 through 22 or 23. And that's the exact issue that we're trying to deal with. And I think the question of putting a child or a young adult into the position of actually petitioning themselves goes against everything that we have been trying to do with the divorce laws and the process for the last ten years, which is the last thing you want to do is to get a child or a young adult involved with the court, with the judge, in the middle of all the arguing.I just - I'm very glad this bill is before us to do away with some of the very scenarios that are being discussed here. I think we're leaving children and young people in a situation where they get jerked around every time a parent writes a tuition check and they are in a situation where they can't look ahead more than one or two semesters and it's really a cruel system the way it is now. And it's my sincere hope that we get this out very quickly. Thank you.

REP. FELTMAN: Further questions? Yes.

REP. SPALLONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for your testimony this afternoon. I was interested at the opening of your testimony. You described the state of practice when you entered the Bar and you mentioned, it seemed to me, mentioned that at that time when the age of majority was 21, that these issues were considered at the time of negotiation and at the time of judgment and/or approval of an agreement. I wanted to clarify that. Before Connecticut lowered the age of majority to 18, did courts, in fact, deal with this issue, enforceable orders regarding post majority support?

GERALD ROISMAN: The answer is yes. Directly, yes. Support went to age 21. If a child was a student in an advanced educational institution, then the cost of that educational institution were considered. They had to come out of the family pot somehow, some way and it was part of a support order or perhaps fashioned in an alimony order because if you had -- it's bad now, but it was worse then in terms of the disparity between most husbands and most wives in the income factor. So we used to design a lot of settlements in an alimony component. And you have somebody pay more in alimony and pay a lesser income tax consequence on the same dollars. Thus, Uncle Sam was helping free up some money for this educational expense. There were a variety of ways we used to do that. You can even do that now if you bargain for it privately outside of what this would provide. So the answer is yes.

REP. SPALLONE: Okay, thank you. Thank you for that perspective and thank you,  Mr. Chairman. No more questions.

REP. FELTMAN: Thank you, Representative Spallone. Are there further questions? If not, thank you very much for your testimony.

 

AMY MILLER:

 

Connecticut Women's Education Legal Fund

 

We're a statewide non-profit organization working to enhance the personal and professional lives of women, girls, and their families in the State of Connecticut.

 

I'm speaking here today on behalf of both raised S.B. 82, AN ACT CONCERNING AWARDS OF THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND OPPORTUNITIES, as well as raised H.B. 5088, AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ORDERS.

 

In raised H.B. 5088, again frequently custodial parents contact our information referral program to learn if the child support order, which will end once the child is finished from high school can be extended to assistwith the cost of post-secondary education. They (inaudible) that the post-secondary education is the next logical step for their child. Yet, without the support of both parents, the child will not be able to attend. This fear is not unfounded, since over the past 20 years college tuition at public and private institutions is almost doubled. Passing this bill does not mean that in every circumstance post-majority support would be ordered. Rather, it's an additional tool for families to provide a secure future for their children. The criteria of raised H.B. 5088 to determine if a non-custodial parent should pay post-majority includes that the court looks at the parents' income, the child's need for support to attend an institute of higher education or private occupational school, the child's assets and the child's ability to earn income, as well as their academic record. Connecticut would be only one of several states that permits courts to order a parent to pay some of the post-secondary educational expenses, including  Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York. Post-secondary education is a critical component of ensuring that people are self sufficient. Many studies have shown that with increased levels of educational attainment, income levels rise significantly. Having an associates or bachelors degree increases earning potential and employment opportunities. According to a study done by the U.S. Department of Education, adults with higher levels of education are more likely to participate in the labor market than those adults with little or no education. The study also found persons with lower levels of educational attainment were more likely to be unemployed than those who had higher levels of educational attainment. In 1999, the employment rate for adults of 25 and over, was 1.8% for those with a Bachelors Degree or higher. This bill is an important first step in assisting youth from families that are separated in our state to reach self sufficiency through post-secondary education. It will allow parents another means to provide security for their children and help them achieve their dreams. I urge you to support raised H.B. 5088. Thank you.

REP. FELTMAN: Thank you. Are there any questions for the witness? Okay, thank you very much, Ms. Miller.

 

 

BEVERLEY BRAKEMAN:

 

Executive Director of the Connecticut National Organization for Women

 

Good afternoon, Representative Feltman, Representative Farr, members of the Judiciary Committee. My name is Beverley Brakeman. I'm the Executive Director of the Connecticut National Organization for Women. We're a statewide association of 2,500 members. I'm here to testify in support of three bills, H.B. 5031, AN ACT CONCERNING COMPLIANCE WITH THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT. You have my written testimony. Basically we support that legislation or that proposal. Raised H.B. 5088, AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATION SUPPORT ORDERS. And S.B. 82, AN ACT CONCERNING THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND OPPORTUNITIES. Regarding the educational support orders, as you know, young people today, especially in times of economic recession, are experiencing delays in entering the workforce and are confronted with increasingly higher academic accreditation and standards for middle class jobs, therefore ending up in college and vocational institutions well beyond the age of majority.  The high rate of divorce in this country, the results of some studies that have indicated that children of intact families have a somewhat better chance of receiving parental support for college than children from divorced families, and the fact that non-custodial parents, at least anecdotally, are more likely to express unwillingness to do more than what is legally required, gives us cause to be concerned about the ability of some children to attend college. This legislation is about giving children from divorced families the opportunity to attend college or receive vocational training when they might not otherwise. While many would argue this is not an area in which the State should be interfering, we would argue, as others have, that the State has a vested interest in the educational attainment of its citizens, especially given the high social and economic value placed on post-secondary education in this country. For all these reasons, we urge you to support this bill. S.B. 82, AN ACT CONCERNING THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND OPPORTUNITIES. Connecticut N.O.W. is very concerned about the need for adequate responses to and remedies for victims of employment discrimination. Can I keep going?

 

REP. FELTMAN: Do you have written testimony?

BEVERLEY BRAKEMAN: Yeah, I do.

REP. FELTMAN: Okay.

BEVERLEY BRAKEMAN: So basically for a lot of the reasons that other people have talked about today, we support this legislation and think hearing officers for CHRO should have that authority.

REP. FELTMAN: Great. Thank you very much. Any questions for the witness? I'm sorry, for the speaker? I think I'm in court here. Okay, if not, thank you very much, Ms. Brakeman.

BEVERLEY BRAKEMAN: Thank you.

 

KATE HOAKENSEN

Family Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association

 

REP. FELTMAN: Our next speaker is Kate Hoakensen from the Family Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association. Welcome, Attorney Hoakensen. It's good to see you.

KATE HOAKENSEN: Thank you, Representative Feltman. Representative Farr, members of the committee, I am here representing the Family Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association in support of H.B. 5088. I have submitted some written testimony and I'm not going to go over everything in my testimony because I would prefer to devote my time to some of the issues that have been raised by prior speakers and by members of the committee. And also by the written testimony of the Judicial Department, which was submitted. The thrust of that testimony is that this bill is liable to cause a great deal of additional litigation and one of the points that I really want to make to you today is that this bill is as much as anything about bargaining.  As Jerry Roisman said, this is about changing the tenor of the bargaining over college education because right now this is an unequal bargaining situation. The gurus of bargaining theory, of negotiating theory, talk about they're always negotiating against your best alternative to a negotiated settlement. Right now, the best alternative to a negotiated settlement for somebody who doesn't want to make - commit himself to contributing to a college education is zero. So there's an unequal bargaining situation here and the result of that is that, at least according to Judith Lowerstein's study, only half as many children of divorced parents got to college in her study compared to a similarly situated group of children of married parents. The vast majority of divorce and support cases settle by agreement. The reason the parties agree is they want some certainty in the result. They want to control the result and the way to control the result is by reaching an agreement. Once the court has the ability to enter these kinds of orders, people will want to reach agreements about these kinds of orders. And to address Representative Farr's question about caps, caps, I think, will become a creature of these agreements because people want to have some control over the kinds of orders that are entered. But I wouldn't put them in the legislation because as Leslie Brett said, this legislation has to apply to the very rich and the not so rich and, quite frankly, for the very poor, because this bill exhorts the court to consider the financial circumstances of the parties, it's unlikely that people who have almost no resources will be ordered to make these kinds of contributions. So that the door needs to be kept open so that the bargaining will be open, so that people will have the incentive to make agreements. I did have a couple of other --

REP. FELTMAN: Why don't you go on briefly. Just highlight your points.

KATE HOAKENSEN: Well, I think there's a good reason for not making this a right of a child and one of the reasons has to do with the financial aid issue that was asked earlier.  One of the points that was made in the legislative commission's committee, on which I was fortunate to serve, was that income, the effect of support on how income is viewed, support which is paid to a custodial parent (a little bit of testimony was not recorded due to the fact that the tape turned over from side (a) to side (b)) -- for the purpose of financial aid. Support paid directly to the child, however, is counted at 50%. So if we were to have this money paid directly to the child rather than to the parent, there would be a greater chance of that child being at a disadvantage for financial aid purposes than there would be having the support paid as it is primarily contemplated by this bill, which is to one of the parents. I also think it's important to keep in mind that this bill says very specifically that these orders may be made on the motion, on the petition or motion of a parent. So if you have two parents who had no interest in contributing to the children's college education, who see themselves as unable to contribute, they won't file a motion. This is only for the situation where you have two parents who, at that time, don't agree about what their intentions were, don't agree about what their desire is for the child, and those are exactly the kinds of situations where the court should get involved. I do agree with the testimony that came before about Representative Farr's question about what happens if you have a divorce and you've got one child half way through college, say age 20, and other children who are younger? I think that this bill would apply to both of them. On the other hand, if that child who was 20 had paid himself for his first two years, I think under this bill, the court would take that into consideration as when looking at the assets and resources of the child and the child's needs.  Clearly a child who, for example, had a full scholarship wouldn't need parental support.

REP. FELTMAN: Thank you. Are there any questions? Representative Farr.

REP. FARR: Your testimony was that the certainty of results is an important part of the negotiations.

KATE HOAKENSEN: I'm sorry, Representative Farr, I can't hear you.

REP. FARR: Your testimony was that certainty of outcome was important in the negotiating process, that people negotiate settlements because at least they've got control and they know what the outcome is going to be. The bill, as drafted, provides for - has in it the ability to seek, at any time, support for higher educational costs. So there is no certainty of results in the draft before us. In other words, you have a divorce, you settle (INAUDIBLE-MICROPHONE QUIT WORKING) -- with passage of this bill until your children are 23 is your educational obligation for higher education. Isn't that correct?

KATE HOAKENSEN: Well, no actually. With all due respect, I think you're confusing certainty with finality. And I'm talking about controlling the outcome at that time. People, within a very limited area, can now negotiate even child support even though there are guidelines and I think that people will negotiate support agreements which perhaps tend to limit their obligation, such as putting out a cap, as you suggested of UConn.  I think that people who do that will be hard pressed to convince a court to raise that cap later on unless there's a very significant change in circumstances. I think they'll have a harder time getting a modification than people who don't negotiate a cap. But I also think that, as I said, there's a difference between that and finality. There's no cap on - you can't waive being a parent and -- sorry, the microphone is talking back to me here. There was another point I was going to make.

REP. FARR: Well, let me ask you another question. Right now the support for a child, your first family is generally considered to be - you do your calculations and your obligation is calculated with your obligation to pay support for the first family. So if you have a child and then you go out and have some more children, you've still got the obligation to pay support for that first family.

KATE HOAKENSEN: That's true.

REP. FARR: If you go out and have additional children, and then your children by your first marriage decide to go to college, an expensive institution, how is the calculation done? Do you then calculate your obligation to pay the support to your second family and see what's left over or do you say well, you had a first family, so we're going to now say first you pay for the college education, then the support of the second family.

KATE HOAKENSEN: Well, that's really the question and I think we can look for guidance to the child support guidelines. Currently, what the guidelines allow is that the obligation to support other children can be considered even if they're subsequent children when defending a modification. So that if -- let's assume that you're a parent of one child and then in a second marriage you have two or three more children and then your ex-spouse files a motion to either institute or modify a post-high school support order. At that point, looking at the guidelines, the guidelines would consider the obligation to support your other children, even though they live with you and take into consideration the support for those children before figuring out a guideline order. This statute would consider, under Section C-1, other obligations of the parents. So I think that it would be natural for a court to take into consideration the obligation to support certainly minors, even though they were born subsequently.

REP. FARR: Okay. That's if there's a subsequent modification.

KATE HOAKENSEN: Well, that's what I took your question to be, that somebody's coming in after the subsequent children are born and seeking that support. Was that not right?

REP. FARR: Well, I guess I could draw a more complex scenario --

KATE HOAKENSEN: It would be counterpoint to do it the other way because you really couldn't have subsequent children before you divorced. I mean, you could, but it would be a little unusual.

REP. FARR: Yeah. Okay, thank you.

KATE HOAKENSEN: You're welcome.

REP. FELTMAN: Thank you. Are there any other further questions for the speaker? If not, thank you very much, Attorney Hoakensen for joining us.

KATE HOAKENSEN: Thank you.

 

 

LINNEA LINDSTROM

 

I am Linnea Lindstrom and I live in Stonington, Connecticut. I'm here today to ask for your support and to tell you of my support of proposed H.B. 5088, AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ORDERS. You've heard a lot of testimony this morning about the bill and I'd like to put a face to it. About fifteen years ago my ex-husband and I sold our home and with our two daughters, moved across country to Arkansas so that he could attend college and obtain a degree in architecture.  We both were able to graduate, return to Connecticut and pursue our careers.  Our marriage deteriorated and we divorced five years ago. There was no alimony granted and nothing that I asked for, there was no property, anything to give up. The only thing I had asked for in the divorce decree was that my ex-husband help pay for our college - the college tuition of our two daughters. He felt, at that time, that even child support was punitive and he had the language that my attorney had drafted regarding college removed and I want to read that paragraph to you. It's not asking for very much. It says, "The defendant shall pay 60% and the plaintiff shall pay 40%." That was based on our income at the time, "Of the cost of four years of undergraduate college education or equivalent post-secondary school training. If and to the extent the minor children shall attend college or any institution of post-secondary school technical training. The total amount shall not exceed the then prevailing cost of the University of Connecticut for in-state residents, including tuition, room, board, registration, laboratory fees, books, and student fees. Such obligation shall be for four full years of such education and shall not extend past the each minor child of the 23rd birthdays." This legislation should effect only those parents who have the financial means to consider it. The legislation won't help my children, but it can help thousands of other children who maybe caught in a struggle of power and manipulation. Unfortunately, the State can't legislate good parents, but it can enforce the parents' responsibility for their child's education. Thank you.

 

SEN. COLEMAN: Would you mind saying your first name again?

LINNEA LINDSTROM: Sure. It's Linnea. L-I-N-N-E-A Lindstrom.

SEN. COLEMAN: Thank you very much. Are there questions? There are apparently no questions. Thank you for being here.

LINNEA LINDSTROM: Thank you.

SEN. KISSEL: You and your daughters have been very patient.

LINNEA LINDSTROM: Thank you.

SEN. COLEMAN: Patricia Walsh.

 

PATRICIA WALSH

 

I am here with my mom and my sister to support the proposed H.B. 5088 concerning educational support orders. I was a freshman in high school when my parents divorced in 1997.(inaudible) my relationship with my father. It was strained and (inaudible), at best. When I was 17, all contact of any type of a relationship had ceased. In the fall of my senior year I looked at schools. I wanted to attend a private school somewhere along the east coast. Boston College and Northeastern were among my favorites. Upon looking at these schools, my family and I came to the realization that these schools were completely out of the question, based on my financial situation even if I were to obtain optimal financial aid and I was awarded scholarships. Instead, I applied to Marrimack and (inaudible), both private schools outside of Boston. UConn and Eastern State University were also my fall backs. When the time came to choose a school, I was faced with two choices. One was to attend one of these private schools, to which I was accepted, and struggle with a part-time job just to meet the bare necessities. The other was to put my dreams aside and attend a state school and hope maybe a graduate school at one of these colleges would be possible. Throughout the past years I struggled both financially and emotionally trying to find a place where I fit in. I've transferred between UConn, UConn at Avery Point and Eastern Connecticut State University. As I have come to terms with my situation, I (inaudible) even the smallest financial donation from my father would (inaudible) greatly to both me and my family. Perhaps pay for even half my books or the room deposit.  I work two jobs now and attend school full-time. I'm so proud of everything I've achieved and everything that I've worked hard to earn.

 

SEN. COLEMAN: Thank you. Are there questions? Senator Kissel.

SEN. KISSEL: I just want to congratulate you. You did an excellent job in your presentation and I know because even though I sit here, sometimes I testify on bills and when I go sit over there, you get a little nervous and you did a fantastic job. So it may look a little difficult right now, but some day you're going to look back upon this and be very proud of everything that you're working yourself through. I think that bringing real experience to legislation means a lot to us. You know, there are a lot of people, lobbyists and things like that, but real people who spend the day and talk from the heart means as much, if not more, when it comes to our decisions regarding legislation. And I wanted to thank you for coming and testifying.

PATRICIA WALSH: Thank you.

SEN. KISSEL: You're welcome.

 

KELLY WALSH

High School Senior

 

Hello. I'm speaking in support of the proposed bill, H.B. 5088.  Currently I'm a senior at St. Bernhard's High School and I got accepted into (inaudible) of Design this fall. This college means the world to me, but I won't be able to go unless I get scholarships because my father has refused to pay for any of the college tuition.  Since my parents' divorce five years ago, I've had a relationship with my father. This past year I started asking him about college costs, but every time I brought it up, he would change the subject. This fall we went out and I told him that I had started to apply to colleges and I needed to know if he was going to help out with the costs. He quickly said, "We'll see" and then changed the subject. The next week he called me up and told me that he decided he did not want to carry on the relationship.  It hurts to know that a college educated parent does not want to help me achieve my goals. I find that after this year I will have no support from my father. I will have no emotional, physical, or financial support.

 

SEN. COLEMAN: Senator Kissel.

SEN. KISSEL: Again, I want to commend you for being patient all day and also to be brave enough to come here and expose things that are going on in your life and you're a senior in high school. That takes a lot of guts.  I think with the way you've handled this and the old saying, "turning a lemon into lemonade" and sort of having some of the things that aren't working out for you, but try to make things better for other people, I think that, God willing, there might be some brighter days for you in the future.  So again, I would like to compliment you, as well, for taking the time to come and testify.

KELLY WALSH: Thank you.

SEN. KISSEL: You're welcome.

SEN. COLEMAN: Any other questions or comments? Thank you, Kelly. Josh Lyons is next.

 

JOSH LYONS

Stonington resident

 

Good afternoon. My name is Josh Lyons. I'm a resident of Stonington, Connecticut and I'm sitting here with great pride for my step-daughters who had the courage and desire on their own to come here and address this committee. And I thank this committee for that opportunity for them and for myself to come here and address this. I am speaking on behalf of H.B. 5088 also. I am speaking in favor of it. This bill will provide -- the passage of this bill will provide some great pportunity for our kids. So often our children are the victims of divorce and the victims of battles between parents which is very unfortunate. But the real opportunity is for our children to grow up and to go on to some kind of post-secondary education or training, if that's their desire and goal. Currently, in Stonington and I think also in Groton, Connecticut about 70% of our high school graduates go on to some form of post-secondary training, which speaks very highly, I think, for our communities and for our state. I have no idea what the state numbers are, but I would assume they're very close to that.  In this day and age as we get more and more into an age of specialization, it seems that post-secondary training or certificates or a college degree has become what a high school degree was or high school diploma was fifteen or twenty years ago. It's almost a necessary achievement for our children to become strong citizens and taxpayers in our communities.  There are a couple of issues that have come up during this discussion today and I would just like to give you my thought on having gone through the process with my step-children and in my own divorce and son.  First of all, is finality. I think that a divorce decree can have some finality for the spouses in there, but it doesn't have finality for children. Our children are our responsibility. We're their mentors. And that doesn't end when they're 18. It doesn't end when they're 24. It doesn't end when they're 55, I don't think. It's very important to keep that there and have that open communication. The other part was they talked about caps and certainly I think when we talk about education and post-high school education, I think we should talk about minimums that people can afford, not caps. Certainly, if I was earning $300,000 and my son decided he wanted to go to Harvard, I would be more than happy to contribute what I could to that education, no matter what the cost was. If I'm earning $20,000 and he wants to go to Harvard, I won't be able to contribute quite as much, but there really should be minimums based on what my earning capabilities are, possibly what his ability is to borrow money against scholarships alone, also.I've heard a couple of words used today and I think that one of the things that this bill is going to allow is it's going to allow judges and magistrates the ability to enforce a parent to contribute to a college education and a post-secondary education. I think they need that ability. It's very, very important. Thank you very much.

SEN. COLEMAN: Thank you. Are there questions for Mr. Lyons? Senator Kissel.

SEN. KISSEL: I just wanted to state and you stated that you're proud of your daughters. I think you have a lot to be proud of and I appreciate your testimony. Thank you.

 


Report on Bills Favorably Reported by Committee

 

COMMITTEE:Judiciary Committee

 

File No.:

Bill No.:HB-5088

PH Date:3/4/2002

Action/Date:JFS 3/25/2002

Reference Change:None

 

 

TITLE OF BILL: AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ORDERS.

SPONSORS OF BILL: Connecticut Law Revision Commission 

 

REASONS FOR BILL:

To assist children of divorced parents afford higher education.

Substitute language - subsection (j) was removed.

Amendment B - In line 26, add a provision that would give evidence of which institute of higher education the child would attend.

Amendment C - Living expenses were deleted.

Amendment F - Inserts a provision for an agreed upon institution subject to further court order.

 

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

 

David L. Hemond, Connecticut Law Revision - This bill reflects a report and recommendation of the Connecticut Law Revision Commission requested by the Co-Chairs, Vice-Chairs and Ranking members of the Judiciary Committee. The Commission report found that a proposal that provides authority for the entering of post-majority educational support orders reflects a viable public policy worthy of consideration. Such a policy initiative has been successfully enacted in a number of other states, appears to be legal under dominant case law, and would appear to further legitimate public interest in the education and well-being of our children.

 

Stephen N. Ment, Judicial Branch - This proposal will cause an increase in the number of motions and other pleadings filed in the Superior Court Family Division as well as in the Family Support Magistrate system.

 

Leslie J. Brett, Executive Director, Permanent Commission on the Status of Women - Although some divorced and unmarried parents willingly share the costs of higher education of their children, in some cases the burden falls heavily on the custodial parent and the child. In some divorce disputes, knowing that the judge does not have the authority to order such support, the non-custodial parent can bargain more aggressively on this issues.

 

We have heard stories from divorcing mothers who felt they were forced to give up other major items (i.e. a more equitable share of the house or other assets) in order to obtain an agreement for shared support of college expenses.

 

This bill includes reasonable protections for all parties:

·         The court would have the discretion to consider various factors such as the parent's and child's income and assets; the reasonableness of higher education considering the child's academic record and financial resources available; and the likelihood that the parents would have provided support to the child for higher education if the family were intact.

·         Such support orders would be modifiable by either parent in the same manner as child support orders.

·         The court would not order educational support when the child is not in good academic standing or for graduate or post-graduate education.

 

This bill does NOT create a right of action by the child for parental support for higher education. Giving family law judges the authority to order post-majority support for educational expenses as part of the consideration of an equitable divorce or custody agreement would provide needed protections for dependant children and make the divorce or custody settlement process more fair.

 

Representative Diana S. Urban, 43rd District - By enabling our youth to pursue a higher education we enhance the quality of the future work force in the State of Connecticut.

 

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

 

Amy Miller, Connecticut Women's Education & Legal Fund (CWEALF) - This proposal does not mean that in every circumstance post-majority support would be ordered, rather it is an additional tool for families to provide a secure future for their children.

 

Beverly Brakeman, Executive Director, Connecticut National Organization for Women - In 1972, the age of majority went from age 21 to 18, consequently terminating a parent's responsibility for their child at age 18. Many young people are experiencing delays in entering the workforce and are confronted with increasingly higher academic accreditation standards for middle class jobs, therefore, many end up in college well beyond the age of majority.

 

Kate Haakonsen, Family Law Section, Connecticut Bar Association - The need for this legislation arises from the lowering of the age of majority in 1972. Prior to that time, it was standard for child support to continue past high school to age 21. Since that time, relatively few divorce agreements and no litigated divorces have provided for education expenses after high school. The result has been that children whose parents are divorced are at a distinct disadvantage with respect to paying for post high school education compared to their piers whose parents are married.

 

Attorney Gerald Roisman, CT Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

Linnea Lindstrom

Patricia Walsh

Kelly Walsh

Josh Lyons

 

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None given.

       

Amilcar Armmand

Diana H. Caliendo 4/8/2002

 

 

        ____________________________________

        Reported by Date

 

 


 

Schedule A

General Assembly Amendment

February Session, 2002 LCO No. 3781

       

 

 

Offered by: 

REP. LAWLOR, 99th Dist.

REP. FELTMAN, 6th Dist.

REP. FARR, 19th Dist. 

 

To: Subst. House Bill No. 5088 File No. 432 Cal. No. 262

 

"AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ORDERS. "

 

 

In line 3, after "attend" insert "for up to a total of four full academic years"

 

In line 6, after the period, insert the following:  "An educational support order may be entered with respect to any child who has not attained twenty-three years of age and shall terminate not later than the date on which the child attains twenty-three years of age. "

 

Strike lines 7 to 14, inclusive, and insert the following:

"(b) (1) On motion or petition of a parent, the court may enter an educational support order at the time of entry of a decree of dissolution, legal separation or annulment, and no educational support order may be entered thereafter unless the decree explicitly provides that a motion or petition for an educational support order may be filed by either parent at a subsequent date. If no educational support order is entered at the time of entry of a decree of dissolution, legal separation or annulment, and the parents have a child who has not attained twenty-three years of age, the court shall inform the parents that no educational support order may be entered thereafter. The court may accept a parent's waiver of the right to file a motion or petition for an educational support order upon a finding that the parent fully understands the consequences of such waiver.

(2) On motion or petition of a parent, the court may enter an educational support order at the time of entry of an order for support pendente lite pursuant to section 46b-83 of the general statutes.

(3) On motion or petition of a parent, the court may enter an educational support order at the time of entering an order of support pursuant to section 46b-61 or 46b-171 or similar section of the general statutes, or at any time thereafter.

(4) On motion or petition of a parent, the court may enter an educational support order at the time of entering an order pursuant to any other provision of the general statutes authorizing the court to make an order of support for a child, subject to the provisions of sections 46b-212 to 46b-213v, inclusive, of the general statutes, as amended. "

 

In line 54, after "as" strike "a" and insert in lieu thereof "is provided by law for any"

 

In line 54, insert a period after "order"

 

Strike line 55 in its entirety

 

 

 


House of Representatives

April 26, 2002

 

 

On page 10, Calendar 262, substitute for HB5088, AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ORDERS. Favorable report of the Committee on Judiciary.

 

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman you have the floor sir.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th).

Thank you Madam Speaker. I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's favorable report and passage of the bill.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Question is on acceptance and passage, will you remark?

REP. FELTMAN: (6th).

Thank you Madam Speaker. The purpose of this bill is to widen the jurisdiction of the family court to enable parents who are getting divorced to be able to raise the issue within a dissolution of marriage the issue of post majority support for the education of their children over the age of 18. And the purpose of the bill Madam Speaker is to because in this time of increasing demand in the job market for a better educated workforce. We do need to have more highly skilled people and people do require more and more frequently require higher education in order to be able to attain their employment that they desire and to be able to increase their incomes during their adult lifetimes. This bill which was brought to us by the Law Revision Commission would enable courts to order post majority support for the purpose of education of adult children. In order to, there are a couple of amendments on this to clear up some technical issues. The first one I would like to call, the Clerk has in his possession LCO 3781 I'd ask the Clerk to call it and I be given permission to summarize.

SPEAKER LYONS

The Clerk has in his possession LCO 3781, which will be designated House "A" will the Clerk please call, the gentleman has asked leave to summarize.

CLERK

LCO 3781, House "A" offered by Representatives Lawlor, Feltman and Farr.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman you have the floor sir.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. The purpose of this amendment is to make clear that what the maximum that could be provided is educational support for full for four academic years to make the time frame clear for when the person would be in post secondary school. And to also make clear that such an order could be entered upon initial dissolution or an order of child support. And unless that issue was raised and preserved at the time of the initial dissolution it could not be raised subsequent, post judgment to a resolved dissolution of marriage. For that purpose I move adoption of the amendment.

SPEAKER LYONS:

The question before the Chamber is on adoption will you remark? Will you remark? Representative Farr.

REP. FARR: (19th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. Members of the Chamber I know that it's late on a Friday. But this is a bill that will have substantial on most of our constituents. The reality is that in our society, the majority of marriages end up in divorce. And most of us have, if we haven't been through divorces ourselves have family members or friends who have been through the divorce process. It's important to know a little bit of the history of divorce law in Connecticut. Because up until the early 1970's the age of majority was 21. So if you got a divorce in 1960 what would happen is that you would have an obligation to pay support for your youngsters until the age of 21. That meant that if your youngsters were going to college your obligation would continue while they were going to college. In the early 70's because of the Viet Nam war we had the movement that basically said, old enough to fight, old enough to vote, old enough to fight, old enough to drink. And we changed the age of majority in our society. In Connecticut and virtually every state and we lowered it to 18. When we did that the effect of that was to say that parents then only had an obligation to support their children up until the age of 18. That meant that when someone was divorced their obligation then stopped at the age of 18. When we first did that it was quite common in divorces in Connecticut for the parties to enter into some kind of agreement to deal with the issue of the educational needs of their youngster when they got out of high school. And so what would commonly be done is what I call the UCONN agreement. That typically parents would agree that they would split in some proportion the cost of the education of their youngsters for typically for four years up to the maximum of room and board and tuition at UCONN. But with the passage of time what's happened is that increasingly attorney's advise their clients if their clients are the non-custodial parent that the court can't order that. And since the court can't order that it's foolish for them to enter into such agreement and that if they don't have the order they can still voluntarily do that but at least they won't be forced to do it over the objection at some future time. So what's been happening is increasingly fewer and fewer divorces have resulted into divorce decrees have some agreement as to the education of the youngsters when they graduate from high school. The underlying bill attempted to address this issue by saying that after the divorce at any time you could go to court and seek to get educational support for your youngsters up until the age of 21. The problem with that of approach was that in many cases the parent at the time of the final divorce take into consideration the educational needs of their youngsters and often time they put up property. They make a property distribution that reflects who is going to pay for the college tuition. So one may get a house that's going to be used with a second mortgage to help with tuition. They may divide assets to take in to consideration what will happen with tuition. If you then say well after the divorce you can go in a couple years later and then seek a separate order for the educational costs that would keep this issue open forever, well not forever but at least until the child becomes 23. What this amendment does is that it attempts to bring finality to the divorce. And what it says is that at the time of the final divorce decree, the divorce decree should speak to that issue. So if the parties have an expectation that they're going to - one or both of the parties - is going to be obligated to pay for the educational needs of their youngster it should be in that decree.  That doesn't mean that that decree has to spell out exactly what that obligation is. My assumption is that in most cases there will be something like we commonly use, with some kind of cap on the exposure and some kind of division as the obligation. But at least the parties will know that once they get their divorce they'll have some idea or some expectation as to what their future obligations are going to be. I think that's terribly important for all parties to a divorce. One of the problems today is that people get second marriages. And so they, when they enter into this second marriage and they have additional children there's always a conflict about which obligations should come first.  You've got a youngster by your first marriage that's going to college with a tremendous tuition and yet you've got youngsters by your second marriage that have needs as well. I think this amendment attempts to deal with that so that you'll know at the end of your first marriage that you will know when that divorce decree is exactly what your obligations will be in the future. Now it doesn't have to be spelled out in great detail because you could enter into a decree that simply says that the parties will share in their obligation in paying for the educational needs of that youngster beyond high school.  And leave it up to the parties later to address that need. But I think this is a good amendment and it's a reasonable compromise. It's an attempt I think to get the parties to address that issue when they're entering into the final decree. I think that's helpful to everyone. I think it will help the relationship between the former spouses. It will help the relationship with their children and there will be some understanding by everybody's part what the obligations are going to be. So I would urge adoption of the amendment. Thank you.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Thank you sir. Will you remark further? Representative Powers.

REP. POWERS: (151st)

Thank you Madam Speaker. I rise in strong support of this amendment and the bill once it's been amended. As Representative Farr just explained we're attempting to rectify one of those unintended consequences that happened when we moved the age of majority down to 18. All of a sudden on their 18th birthday children of divorce found that they were not covered for secondary education. This is very, very important. I hope that we all understand that what we do here today is very significant for children of divorce. As Representative Farr mentioned the majority of marriages these days end in divorce. And as we all know that is an extremely difficult process especially for children. Even children who are very young watch this process and say what will happen to me later on? What will happen to me in high school? What will happen to me when it's time for me to go to college? This will give those children just a little bit more security. This legislation and this amendment before us produces a series of hurdles that the  judge must look at and basically take the family through in terms of deciding what is appropriate and what is an appropriate plan and responsibility for the respective parents. I think it's very fair. It is prospective. It does not touch any divorce action prior to October 1, 2002. I urge all my colleagues to support this amendment and the amended bill. Thank you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Thank you will you remark further? Representative Nystrom. Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. A question to the proponent of the amendment.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Please frame your question sir.

REP. FOX: (144th)

Representative Farr I will have to acknowledge the fact that I have not had a chance to read this carefully.  I would say to you that I do not object to the concept being put on the table and being subject to debate and discussion as part of a divorce. I think that the concept can if done properly level the playing field.  But it is a significant and major change that we're making in the area of family law. As I look at your amendment beginning on line 9, you talk in terms of on a motion or a petition of a parent the court may enter an educational support order at the time of entry of a decree of dissolution, legal separation, etcetera. And that no educational support may be entered thereafter unless the decree specifically provides. Let's assume for the sake of discussion that the parties have a very young family and that there is no agreement with respect to whether or not that type of order may enter. Is it fair to say that in that scenario that the court may still enter such an order?

SPEAKER LYONS:

I apologize sir, the question I believe is directed to Representative Farr, please proceed.

REP. FARR: (19th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. Through you, it is my understanding of the way that this would work would be very similar to alimony in that, if alimony is not entered at the time of the divorce decree it's impossible to go back later and seek alimony. So this would work in the same fashion. So that if you don't get an order at the time of the divorce decree you can't go back later and seek educational support. Now the ability -- this is giving the court the ability to enter into that order. But my assumption is that since 99% of the divorces in Connecticut are terminated ultimately by agreement, is that the parties would agree, would enter into an agreement and that agreement would include the issue of whether or not there is to be an educational support order. So that if the parties had agreed that there was no educational support order, just as they do with alimony, the court if it accepted that agreement there would be no order. Just as there is with alimony it would be required that you would canvass the parties to make sure that they understand the ramifications. And if the parties couldn't agree then the court would in fact have the power to do this. Through you Madam Speaker to Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144th)

Through you Madam Speaker, that's not entirely the question I had. Let's assume for the sake of discussion that - and I understand that there may be other amendments that will be called to deal with the topic - but dealing with your amendment, let's assume for the sake of discussion that there is a divorce involving children at a very young age, 2 or 3 years old or something of that nature. Which is not uncommon today. In that scenario the parties do not agree on whether or not there ought to be this type of educational obligation. Do I understand it that in that scenario even though the educational obligation may not happen for 15 or 16 years that the court would still have the right, under your amendment, to enter that order 15, 16, 17 years before the issue would ever come to fruition.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Farr.

REP. FARR: (19th)

Yes, thank you Madam Speaker. The underlying bill does that. The underlying bill says that at any time you can go back to court and seek that educational order. And the underlying bill has certain standards that you would have to meet in order to show that it's reasonable for the court to enter those orders. This amendment restricts it. So what this amendment is doing is saying that even though while the underlying bill would have allowed it to happen without regard to whether it was addressed at the time of the divorce. This amendment says, only if there is an order at the time of the divorce can you go back 15, or 17 ½ years or whatever the length of time is, I guess actually 22 years I suppose. The amendment seeks to limit the ability of the parties to go back and seek it. Through you Madam Speaker to Representative Fox.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144th)

Through you Madam Speaker. It only limits it if the parties agree that it be limited. It does not limit it if in fact there is no agreement on that topic, isn't that correct?

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Farr.

REP. FARR: (19th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. Again through you to Representative Fox. I believe this language is similar to the language that's currently used for alimony in our statutes. And the language says that for alimony that the court may enter alimony. But in fact, and probably in the vast majority of cases there is no alimony order entered because the parties agree that there won't be. And that's part of the agreement for the dissolution of the marriage. So I don't think this language is really any different than that. If the parties come before the court and say this is our agreement and part of that agreement is that there will be no educational support, then if the court accepts the agreement that will be the judgment. It would seem to me not likely that the parties will come to court and say, oh we can't agree on educational support so we'll let the court decide. Any more than it's likely today that the parties would come before the court and say we can't agree as to whether there's alimony so we'll let the court decide. My assumption is that with this language the parties are always going to try to make a decision. And if they can't make a decision as to this one element, if they can't reach an agreement as to this one element, that they won't have an agreement on the entire, you know on the all of the terms of the dissolution of the marriage. And that may force the parties to go ahead and have the whole matter contested. Through you Madam Speaker to Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144th)

Through you Madam Speaker. While I might agree that in the majority of cases these scenarios do end up in resolution. I don't think that it deals with the more serious scenario where there is not an agreement. And what I think the body must understand is that you can have a scenario, a frequent scenario where this legislation will result in additional significant litigation over an additional issue that we're now putting before the court. And that in those situations unless there is an agreement, we are giving the court the ability to enter orders which will not be effective for 10, 12, or 15 years when the condition and situation and the financial position of the parties could well have changed dramatically. There is also nothing, unless there is another amendment to deal with it, under the existing bill that would prohibit the court from imposing an obligation on a parent who has virtually no contact with that child for several years and who could come back after ten or fifteen years and say, dear dad or mom thanks for the check I'll tell you where to send it even though I haven't talked to you in years. Before this bill is approved and hopefully - although I think it's a lengthy process - that we'll get to it sometime this evening. I think there are some adjustments that need to be made to correct it so that it is fair and equitable for all involved. Thank you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Farr, oh I'm sorry I apologize, Representative Fox I believe had had the floor. Will you remark further on the amendment that is before us? Will you remark further on the amendment that is before us? Representative Chapin.

REP. CHAPIN: (67th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. A question to Representative Farr through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Please frame your question sir.

REP. CHAPIN: (67th)

As a follow up to Representative Fox's questions. When I first read through the underlying bill I was under the impression that the parent could go back at any time up until the child was age 23 to ask to, on a motion or a petition of the court to enter an educational support order. And if I'm correct in my understanding this amendment takes that ability away but preserves the right for the parent to do that later on? Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Farr.

REP. FARR: (19th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. The underlying bill says that at any time up until the age reaches the age of 23 either party can go back to court to seek an educational support order. This amendment restricts that and says if the final divorce decree doesn't provide for that ability to go back, or doesn't have some provision for the educational needs of the children, the parties are thereafter in effect prohibited from going back and seeking that order for educational support.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Chapin.

REP. CHAPIN: (67th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. Again through you Madam Speaker to Representative Farr. So if at the time of the dissolution of marriage the couple makes the decision that they don't want to incorporate any sort of an educational support order or to preserve the right they have that as the first option or they can spell out in the actual divorce decree exactly who was paying for what later on when the children became college age, or they could put in the dissolution of marriage or the divorce decree that at the time of the enrollment of the child they would then go back to the court and discuss who was paying and for how much and at what college? Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Farr.

REP. FARR: (19th)

Through you Madam Speaker. That's correct.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Chapin.

REP. CHAPIN: (67th)

Thank you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Will you remark further on the legislation before us? Representative Bernhard.

REP. BERNHARD: (136th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. Through you Madam Speaker a question to the proponent of the bill.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Please frame your question.

REP. BERNHARD: (136th)

Following up on the inquiry of Representative Fox. I would just like to make an observation and see if the proponent concurs with me. Isn't it almost a certainty that where there isn't an agreement between the parties that a court in hearing a case would decide as part of the decision that this subject of support after age 18 would remain open? And contrary to Representative Farr's statement that this is like alimony, it would in almost every instance be  ordered? Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Through you Madam Speaker. No I would not agree that in every instance be ordered. There is a series of tests that the court would consider in lines 16 through 28 of the bill that would need to be considered. But I think the question was whether or not that is raised by the amendment or is answered by the amendment, is when would this have to be considered and the answer is at the time of dissolution. Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Bernhard.

REP. BERNHARD: (136th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. Just a follow up question for clarity sake. In a situation where the parties, where a court is going to render its decision and there has not been a separation agreement entered into by the parties. The court will look at the equities, the financial circumstances, the length of the marriage, and in many instances would conclude - in appropriate instances - would conclude that there should be no award of alimony.  However, in this instance when the tests are met that you referred to Representative Feltman have been, exist rather than met but exist. I can't think of an instance when a court in fairness to the child and to the legislation that we have before us would never not order that the issue of child support remain open until the child is 23. Do you agree with me Representative Feltman.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Through you Madam Speaker. I think what experience will tell us the answer to that question Representative Bernhard. I would say that the courts now have the right to award alimony and in fewer and fewer cases are they doing so. You know I think we're going to have some experience in that and we'll have the answer to that question. I will also note that in 97 percent of the cases these matters, all these matters of dissolution are handled by agreement of the parties. So that's -

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Bernhard.

REP. BERNHARD: (136th)

I thank the Representative Feltman for his answers. Thank you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Thank you. Will you remark further on the legislation, Representative Raczka.

REP. RACZKA: (100th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. A question to the proponent of the amendment.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Please frame your question.

REP. RACZKA: (100th)

This seems to me to be a fairly unique piece of legislation. Have any other states adopted similar positions?

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Yes Madam Speaker, through you. Thank you for asking the question Representative Raczka. In fact 23 states and the District of Columbia all have similar laws. And I would note that every neighboring state of ours has had similar on their books actually for many years, including the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York. So we are actually, Connecticut is lagging behind in this regard.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Raczka.

REP. RACZKA: (100th)

Thank you. I'm trying to understand the workings of this amendment and the underlying bill. I noticein the OLR analysis it indicates that the court could ultimately decide the appropriateness of the college if there is a dispute, is that correct?

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Through you Madam Speaker. I actually would like to take this opportunity in answering this question to also point to Subsection d in that we have a requirement that both parents participate and agree upon which institution of higher education or private occupational school a child will attend. So this also address the question that Representative Fox answered earlier about an absent parent.  The requirement of the legislation is that both parents participate in the decision. So even if that parent has long been absent, that parent will need to be called back into the decision making process for the purpose of reaching the decision with regard of higher education. And only after deliberation if the parties themselves are unable to reach an agreement would the court attempt to mediate that.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Raczka.

REP. RACZKA: (100th)

Just a comment on this bill, which I am really struggling with.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Raczka I would just bring to your attention we are still on the amendment.

REP. RACZKA: (100th)

On the amendment rather.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Yes we are still on the amendment.

REP. RACZKA: (100th)

This is a concept, family law in our state is an extremely difficult area. And it's my sense that whenever we add the courts into the mix we frequently create bigger problems than we're solving. When people are forced to do things that they just honestly don't feel they have a moral obligation to do, I know I my family paying for higher education is just one of those things that we feel a parent must do. But for this legislation, for this legislature to make a law that makes it an enforced moral obligation, if you will, I really am struggling if that is the best way for us to handle this issue. Thank you.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Will you remark further on the amendment? Will you remark further on the amendment? Representative Hamzy.

REP. HAMZY: (78th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. A question through you to the proponent.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Please frame your question.

REP. HAMZY: (78th)

Madam Speaker I also am trying to understand a couple parts to this amendment.  I understand that a parent can go to court, petition a court or file a motion to order payments to be made for a higher education. I also understand that this amendment limits that to four full academic years. If the parent goes, if the child decides to go to college at age 22, under this amendment is the parent required to pay for four full years or until the child reaches age 23? Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Through you Madam Speaker. No, the parent's obligation ceases at the age of 22 regardless of when the student started.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Hamzy.

REP. HAMZY: (78th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. And just going back to the analogy to an alimony order and following up on Representative Bernhard's line of questioning. When, in your opinion, would a court not enter language with regard to this order as part of a dissolution? Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Through you Madam Speaker. I would suggest that a court might not order and I would respectfully differ with my colleague Representative Raczka on his characterization of this being any way a mandate because it is not. It is just a matter of jurisdiction. The court would have the opportunity to consider it upon motion of the parent. I would say there will be many instances where a court might not order it. One would be in which one parent, presumably the custodial parent, does not wish to support the child through higher education.  nThe one parent has to be willing to make the motion and be willing to put their own financial resources on the line before the court would even have the jurisdiction to consider this question. There are other circumstances, the child's academic record might not warrant it. The family might not have sufficient resources. There are many instances in which this, while the court would continue to have jurisdiction, when no order would be entered. Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Hamzy.

REP. HAMZY: (78th)

Through you Madam Speaker. I can understand where a lot of these issues will be taken into account when a child is older, say 14, 15 or 16. However, when the child is younger, let's say three, four or five. In those instances when would a court not at least give consideration to entering or making reference to a support order at that time? Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Through you Madam Speaker. I think I've outlined the answer to that question.  There could be instances where the family, neither parent has any intention, they never had any intention of supporting their child through higher education prior to dissolution. I think in that instance, I think the parents themselves would not make such a motion, or if they did they would not be sustained. Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Hamzy.

REP. HAMZY: (78th)

Through you Madam Speaker. It's my understanding, I don't practice a lot of divorce or family law. But it's my understanding that when there's a dissolution and the issue of alimony comes up, one of the provisions of the dissolution would be in order to allow the issue of alimony to remain is the judge will award alimony in the amount of a dollar to one or the other parties.  When a child is young enough where there hasn't been established whether or not that child wants to go to college or is capable of going to college or if the parents have even thought of sending their child to college, in that instance is it your belief that the presiding judge, whoever hears this would automatically an order similar to the alimony provision that I just outlined?  Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

  Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Through you Madam Speaker. It would seem to me that there would need to be one parent who has the desire to send the kid on to, at least one parent wants to send the kid on to post secondary education in order for the issue to preserve possibly for a later date. But if neither parent has the commitment that they're interested in making then at that point it would seem to me that the issue could well be foreclosed.  Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Hamzy.

REP. HAMZY: (78th)

Through you Madam Speaker. I don't mean to belabor this, but when a child is four or five years old, there are a lot of parents that don't even think of higher education when their children are that age. So in reality, how do you envision that, how do you envision this dealing with that issue?  Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Through you Madam Speaker. Yes, that question was contemplated in the amendment. And in which the court at a time when if a party is, does not put this issue, a parent does not put forward this issue they will be informed that this is the time, a the time of dissolution for them to put forward the issue if they intend to. And if not then the issue will be foreclosed in the future. So they will be informed of that fact, it is their opportunity to raise the issue if they wish to do so.  Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Hamzy.

REP. HAMZY: (78th)

Through you Madam Speaker. When would that order ever not happen? Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Through you Madam Speaker. I believe I've answered that question previously.  When if neither parent is committed to financial support of the family towards the higher education of their child. That situation exists a number of families.  In that situation the issue would not be further entertained by the court. Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Hamzy.

REP. HAMZY: (78th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. I thank the proponent for his answers.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Thank you sir. Will you remark further on the amendment that's before us?  Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144th)

Thank you Madam Speaker for the second time. I think there are some issues that need to be understood with respect to this amendment. I again will say to you that the underlying concept I support. But we have to be very careful as to how we do it. To suggest that this related to alimony, is just out of touch with reality. This has nothing to do with alimony. Alimony is down today, not because the courts have decided not to enter it, but because the earning capacity of the people involved has been made more equal over the passage of time, as it should have been.  So you can't compare it to alimony. To say that it's going to happen in only a few instance is in my opinion, simply not accurate. It's like saying you only  need, you don't need automobile insurance because most accidents are only fender benders. You need this done properly because you need it for the scenario which is the worst case, which is people are fighting.  Whether that's five percent or ten percent is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is it's going to be before the court. The fact of the matter is the amendment says that this issue can be dealt with may be entered unless the decree explicitly provides otherwise and can in fact be entered by the court.  It's going to be entered. It's an issue we're going to have to deal with. And to say that don't worry about it too much because it won't happen a lot is simply in my opinion inaccurate. The concept is a good one. The bill has got to be done better. The amendment has got to be done better on a matter which is going to be of major proportion to people that are before the courts at a time in their life which is the most difficult time that they ever faced.  This may be a good try, with all due respect this amendment doesn't do it.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Will you remark further? Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Through you Madam Speaker. I think there may be some confusion but the analogy to alimony had to do with the procedure by which it would be ordered and the manner in which it would be considered. It wasn't suggested that this is a matter equivalent to alimony. It's just a matter of procedurally of how it's handled. It would be procedurally the same way as alimony is handled by the court. Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Carter.

REP. CARTER: (7th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. I'd like to ask a question to the proponent of the amendment.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman.

REP. CARTER: (7th)

If a couple is getting divorced and the children are 14, 15, and 16 and they enter into this four year agreement of educational support what happens to that agreement of support if the child at 19 decides to get married?

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Through you Madam Speaker. I think that my understanding is that if a person becomes an autonomous individual, becomes independent, they are no longer considered to be a dependent and I don't believe that this would apply in that instance.  Through you Madam Speaker.

REP. CARTER: (7th)

Thank you.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Will you remark further on the amendment that is before us? Representative Raczka for the second time.

REP. RACZKA: (100th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. A question for the proponent of the amendment. In reading through this amendment I can't possibly see how this will not create a very substantial increase in the burden on our judiciary, especially in the area of family relations, of the family relations office that does these studies. I was wondering if there is a fiscal note attached to this?

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Through you Madam Speaker. There is a fiscal note and the anticipated fiscal impact is none. Through you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Raczka do you wish to continue?

REP. RACZKA: (100th)

No, thank you Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Thank you sir. Will you remark further? Representative Farr for the second time.

REP. FARR: (19th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. For the second time. It's important for the members to understand we're now voting on the amendment, the amendment restricts the underlying bill. I would suggest to you that if you have concerns about the amendment, I think someone might have greater concerns about the underlying bill. This is more restrictive. Secondly there will be a subsequent amendment offered that will also enter some more restrictions on this. So I would urge the membership to vote for the amendment, consider the second amendment and when we get through vote on the merits of the issue. I understand it's a very complex and difficult issue. Thank you.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Are there any further remarks? If not, let me try your minds all those in favor -- Representative Belden.

REP. BELDEN: (113th)

Thank you Madam Speaker. Normally I let the lawyers do things like this. But I've really gotten to the point where I'm totally confused. We have a bill before us in our files that essentially says, I think it says anyway, that you will have to provide potentially for college education for your child up to the age of 23 - I think that's in the file. And I think it says in the file, based upon all the data I've heard here that the issue can be opened up during the time until the child reaches a certain age for whether or not who will pay and who will do what. From what I gathered from the debate here, the amendment says, yeah, but you only get one shot at it and that's when you file the decree for divorce. And why would we want to limit it to one shot? When it may be as was indicated earlier, 10, 15, 18, 20 years before that youngster is in that position to be going to college? Why are we restricting the ability of the court to rule on whether or not? As is similar with alimony my recollection is you can go back to court and get the alimony changed, get the visiting hours changed, get all kinds of things changed. Why would we want to limit when somebody could determine whether or not who was going to offer to cover the educational costs of their youngster one time and one time only. I don't quite understand. Maybe somebody could help me here.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Representative Feltman.

REP. FELTMAN: (6th)

Yes, through you Madam Speaker I'll take that as a question. It is an attempt to address an issue that was raised in committee where this bill has overwhelming support by Representative Fox and Representative Farr with regard to finality of issues at a time of dissolution a number of factors are considered, including the issues of property distribution, including the issue of child support of minors and other issues with regard to the family.  The concern was to make sure that in the bargaining between the parties that this factor was considered as part of the equation in influencing how the distribution came out on the other factors that are considered when a marriage breaks apart. To not be exclusive or separate from that. But there is a provision that because there may be children involved that maybe of tender years and it may not be possible to conclusively determine, it's possible that the issue may be raised by the parties with a place holder for it to be determined when the children are significantly older. And it's also, as with any other order, it can be modified at a later time, given a change in circumstances. And through you Madam Speaker that's the answer to that question.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Thank you sir. Will you remark further on the amendment that is before us? If not, let me try your minds. All those in favor please signify by saying aye.

REPRESENTATIVES:

Aye.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Those opposed nay.

REPRESENTATIVES:

The chair is in doubt, we'll have a roll call.

CLERK:

The House of Representatives is voting by roll call, members to the Chamber.

The House is voting House amendment schedule "A" by roll call, members to the Chamber, please.

SPEAKER LYONS:

Have all members voted? Have all the members voted? Will the members please check the board to make sure your vote is accurately recorded. If all the members have voted the machine will be locked, the Clerk will take a tally.

The Clerk will please announce the tally.

CLERK:

House amendment schedule "A" for HB5088.

Total Number Voting 137

Necessary for Adoption 69

Those voting Yea 85

Those voting Nay 52

Those absent and not voting 14

SPEAKER LYONS:

The amendment is passes. Representative Pudlin.

REP. PUDLIN: (24th)

Madam Speaker I'd ask that this item be passed temporarily.

SPEAKER LYONS:

The question before the Chamber is on passing it temporarily, hearing no objections so ordered. Representative Newton.


Schedule B

General Assembly Amendment

February Session, 2002 LCO No. 4634

       

      

Offered by: 

REP. LAWLOR, 99th Dist.

REP. FARR, 19th Dist.

REP. RACZKA, 100th Dist.

REP. CAFERO, 142nd Dist. REP. O'NEILL, 69th Dist.

REP. FOX, 144th Dist.

REP. STONE, 9th Dist.

 

To: Subst. House Bill No. 5088 File No. 432 Cal. No. 262

 

  "AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ORDERS. "

 

Strike lines 15 to 28, inclusive, in their entirety and insert the following in lieu thereof:

"(c) The court may not enter an educational support order pursuant to this section unless the court finds as a matter of fact that it is more likely than not that the parents would have provided support to the child for higher education or private occupational school if the family were intact. After making such finding, the court, in determining whether to enter an educational support order, shall consider all relevant circumstances, including: (1) The parents' income, assets and other obligations, including obligations to other dependents;

(2) the child's need for support to attend an institution of higher education or private occupational school considering the child's assets and the child's ability to earn income;

(3) the availability of financial aid from other sources, including grants and loans;

(4) the reasonableness of the higher education to be funded considering the child's academic record and the financial resources available;

(5) the child's preparation for, aptitude for and commitment to higher education; and (6) evidence, if any, of the institution of higher education or private occupational school the child would attend. "

 

In line 46, strike "books,"

 

In line 46, strike "and medical expenses," and insert in lieu thereof ", but such expenses shall not be more than the amount charged by The University of Connecticut for a full-time in-state student at the time the child for whom educational support is being ordered matriculates, except this limit may be exceeded by agreement of the parents. An educational support order may also include the cost of books and medical insurance for such child. "

 

Strike line 47 in its entirety

 

 

House of Representatives

May 6, 2002

 

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Thank you. Will the Clerk please call Calendar 262.

CLERK:

On Page 8, Calendar 262, Substitute for H. B. 5088 AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ORDERS.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Feltman of the 6th.

REP. FELTMAN: (6TH)

Yes, thank you, Madam Speaker. I move acceptance of the Committee's Joint Favorable Report and passage of the bill.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

The question before us is on acceptance and passage. Please proceed, Sir.

REP. FELTMAN: (6TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. We did have this bill before us last week and there was an amendment that was adopted at that time. I don't know if that's going to show up on the board.
Okay, so we can remove House Amendment "A".

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

House Amendment "A" was already adopted, Sir. Proceed to the next.

REP. FELTMAN: (6TH)

Okay, thank you very much. The purpose of this bill, Madam Speaker, is to give courts authority in the event of a marital dissolution to order, upon the motion of either parent and after meeting several criteria in the bill to order for the post majority support for secondary education for young adults that are part of the family.  This bill comes to us from the Law Revision Commission of the state that we requested between the sessions to study the problem and they came back to us with their report recommending that this legislation be adopted.  Madam Speaker, when we have young people come before this Chamber from different high schools around the state and we look at them, they generally gather here in the well, and we look at them and we see what kind of promise they have, and the beaming faces and the hope that they have for their future. And I think it's when we applaud them and we congratulate them and commend them for their activities, it is our hope that they will go on to the bright future that they hope for and their families hope for and that we hope for as a state.
And what the Judiciary Committee has found with the help of the Law Revision Commission is that the most determinate of the future in terms of their ability to take on the challenge of post secondary education and to remain and graduate from secondary education, the best determinate of whether they'll be able to do that is not the education attainment of their parents nor their own commitment to the task at hand, their own academic performance nor the family income. But the best determinate, the best predictor of whether or not they'll be able to go to and remain and to graduate from higher education is whether or not the family stays in tact.  In the 1999 study of a 25 year, over a 25 year period of 131 children, matched for income, education, academic performance, it was found that 80% of the children, of the young adults of in tact families were able to go on to college. Only a third of the children of divorced families were able to go on to college. And for that reason, 23 states and the District of Columbia have already adopted or have on their laws, on their books, the laws that we will hopefully vote on today.  The statistics are from the study that of the control group of children of married parents, 88% receive full or consistent support from those parents for post secondary education compared to only 29% of children whose parents' marriages had ended and only 44% of those parents' marriages ended receive erratic or inconsistent support and 26% that did not receive support.  And we know from our research that post secondary education in our increasingly high tech economy is something that is very important to the children's future.  I would like to yield and again, what this bill would do is, will give courts authority to act in this matter. It's not clear how they would use that authority. It would depend on the circumstances at hand, such factors as family income and the educational history of the student and of that family, but what the both parents want, but it would give the courts authority to act in this arena which is so important to our state.  At this time I would like to yield the floor if I might, to Representative Fox for purposes of offering a friendly amendment.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Fox of the 144th.

REP. FOX: (144TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I accept the yield. I thank Representative Feltman for his help on this bill and for the work that he has done in the Committee on it. As he has indicated, Madam Speaker, there is an amendment. It is LCO4634. I would ask that that be called and that I be allowed to summarize.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Will the Clerk please call LCO4634 designated House "B".

CLERK:

LCO4634, House "B" offered by Representatives Lawlor, Farr, et al.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, in light of the fact that this is a new concept and a major change in the existing legislation, there has been and is a belief that we should start slowly in proceeding with it and that initially, at least, we should limit it. That is what I believe this amendment does.  More particularly, Madam Speaker, it provides for a finding, as a matter of fact by the court, that it is more likely than not that the parents would have provided support to the child for higher education. It then sets a series of guidelines as to the findings that the court must make.
It then provides for a narrowing in the sense of eliminating medical and dental expenses as an item that can be ordered. It does provide and allow for medical insurance. It then sets as a standard, if you will, as a cap if you will, what is commonly referred to as the UConn clause as to the amount that one may be obligated to for the obligations called for under the bill.  I think the amendment is a good one. I think it is a limitation. I think there has been significant work put in on the amendment by those listed as proponents of the amendment as well as by others and I would urge its adoption.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

The question before us is on adoption of the amendment. Representative Farr of the 19th.

REP. FARR: (19TH)

Yes, thank you, Madam Speaker. I, too, would urge the adoption of this amendment. I think it's important for the body to understand that I think what we're trying to do here is put parties in equal negotiating positions.  What's envisioned here is that this is not an order, frankly, that's going to be entered by the court very often after a full hearing, but instead, the basis for negotiations which will result in agreements between the parties.  The experience under the current law is that when there's a divorce, the educational needs, the higher educational needs of the children are not part, necessarily, part of what's agreed upon because the court has no ability to order that unless the parties enter into some kind of agreement to provide for that.  So the experience is what happens is that oftentimes becomes an item to be negotiated but there is not equal position in the two parties. So the custodial parent may desperately want the children to go to college and the noncustodial parent may say that he or she is willing to do that but there has to be something else given up for that order to happen.  What this does is, it says that the issue of college education is appropriately on the table when the parties are negotiating. The expectation is that in 95% of the cases today, the parties are already discussing that. They're already planning for that.  But the hope is that this will make it a fairer negotiation and a fairer agreement when both parties realize that ultimately the court can, in fact, enter into an order.  This was an amendment that frankly, I was very pleased at the way it was arrived at. I know oftentimes this Chamber when they see an amendment with a whole list of lawyers sponsoring it, looks at it a little bit leery but I can assure you that I don't think any of the parties that negotiated this had a hidden agenda.  I think the parties that were negotiating this amendment were bringing to the table their experience in many, many cases where we've seen this issue handled and oftentimes not handled well.  This is a major step for Connecticut. It's a major departure from the current law because right now there is no obligation to pay for educational support beyond the 19th birthday.  So this is a major departure. I think it's a reasonable one. I think it's a fair one. I think we will frankly have to revisit this after we get some experience.  I think it's also interesting that when I was discussing this with Representative Fox earlier, we both reached the same conclusion. This is truly a law that affects the middle class.  If you're poor in Connecticut or in America, higher education is not paid for by the parents. It's paid for through loans, grants, etc. If you're wealthy, it's not an issue because even though the cost may be a couple hundred thousand dollars, if you've got multiple millions of dollars it's not an issue.  And I've seen cases of both ends of the spectrum. It's the in between, the middle class where you're making what appears to be very good income but you have an extraordinary educational cost because your kid is going to a private institution.  This tries to address that, tries to get the parties to the table and negotiate something which is fair and reasonable and I would support the amendment.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Thank you, Sir. Representative O'Neill of the 69th.

REP. O'NEILL: (69TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I also urge support of the amendment. As Representative Feltman indicated, this originally, the draft that we were working on this year came from the Law Revision Commission and one of my colleagues there, prior member, or chairman, rather, of the Commission has a saying that he usually brings to bear at times like these which is that the perfect should not be allowed to become the enemy of the good. And while I do not claim that the Law Revision Commission's earlier draft was perfect, certainly it went somewhat farther in this direction than the amendment we'll end up bringing us to. However, I think that it does reflect a tremendous amount of movement over where we are today in the direction of trying to even out the negotiating that's going to go on when people are getting divorced and I therefore would urge the Chamber to adopt the amendment. Thank you.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Thank you, Sir. Representative Flaherty of the 8th.

REP. FLAHERTY: (8TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, through you if I might, a question to the proponent of the amendment.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Please frame your question, Sir.

REP. FLAHERTY: (8TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Through you, my question is regards to lines 14 through 19 which sets out certain issues which would be considered. My recollection from the debate the last time the bill was before us was that House "A" which was adopted made it so that the order would only be entered at the time of divorce which could be when the child is quite young, maybe four or five years old and I was wondering how the judge would determine the criteria set forth in lines 14 through 19 at such a young age for a child?  Through you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144TH)

Through you, Madam Speaker, I believe House "A" which dealt with lines 7 through 14, provided that the motion may enter, on motion, the court may enter an educational support order at the time of entry of a decree and that no educational support may be entered thereafter unless the decree explicitly provides.  So that would provide some flexibility for allowing the issue to be debated, discussed, litigated, if you will, at some future time. I don't think it cuts it off, it wasn't my amendment, but at least as I interpret it, it doesn't cut it off forevermore at that point in time. It leaves open the possibility that that's an issue that can be debated at a future date.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Flaherty.

REP. FLAHERTY: (8TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Representative Newton of the 124th.

REP. NEWTON: (124TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Just a couple of questions to the proponent of the amendment.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Please proceed, Sir.

REP. NEWTON: (124TH)

Thank you. Representative Fox, in order, or entering into this agreement between husband and wife, when it is determined that the child, as the child gets older, if that child does not want to go to a higher institution, what would happen in that case. I mean, if the courts have already ruled that both parties have to pay half of the education and the child determines at some point after high school, well, Mom and Dad, I don't want to go to high school, I mean, go to college, what would happen? Would they go back to court?  Through you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. The existing legislation which has not been changed by either House "A" or House "B" provides that at the appropriate time, both parents shall participate in and agree upon the decision as to which institution of higher education or private occupational school the child will attend.
So I think that was properly set up in such a way so that the parties would agree or the court could order. If in fact the child decides that the child is not going to attend college, and I suppose it's not different than any other in tact family in which that would have to be resolved by the parties.  I certainly don't think the child could be forced by this legislation to attend college and if that were to happen, then the parents, in my opinion, would simply not incur that expense.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Newton.

REP. NEWTON: (124TH)

Thank you. Just another question. Let's say you have a young couple. The child is maybe two years old. They file for a divorce. The courts grant their divorce. They would, because I'm trying to see how this would work. And I think I heard someone say, this would be an option there until the child became of age to decide if he or she wanted to go to college or would the courts say, or make that determination on educational support?  How would it work in the ruling of a divorce, so I can understand that. Through you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Through you, I think similar to the question raised by Representative Flaherty, it is my opinion that House "A" which I think was well intended to narrow when the order would enter, is also broad enough to provide that an order may enter thereafter if, in fact, the court makes that determination appropriation. It may be filed by either party at a subsequent date.  So in my opinion, what will happen more often than not, if you have a very young child, I think the courts are going to be inclined to leave that issue open for discussion, debate, litigation at a subsequent time.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Newton.

REP. NEWTON (124TH)

Yes. And my final question, Madam Speaker. When the two parties are negotiating on whether it's the house, or who gets what, or how much has to be paid for alimony, could either of the parties in the agreement say, well, I'll be responsible for the education. You be responsible for certain things. Could they do that should this become law? Through you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144TH)

Through you, Madam Speaker. Certainly, as part of an agreement they would be free to do that.

REP. NEWTON: (124TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Thank you, Sir. Representative Prelli of the 63rd.

REP. PRELLI: (63RD)

Madam Speaker. Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to this amendment. I think the underlying bill as we amend it works. I think it's wrong that we limit the amount.
I've noticed, as Representative Farr said, that this was signed by lawyers. I'm not standing because I'm not a lawyer. I'm standing as a parent. I took the obligation as a parent when my children were born that I was going to send them to college, and I took that obligation. And we moved forward and they went on to school and they completed their college education.
I didn't limit where I was sending them. And I didn't make that part of it. This puts a limit on it and I think that's wrong.  We take obligations as a parent when we become a parent. It's not the child's fault that we got, that parents become divorced. It's not the child's fault they shouldn't be able to go to the school they want to go to. I think that this amendment, by limiting it, and making changes to the underlying bill is wrong and I'm planning on voting against it. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Thank you, Sir. Representative Raczka of the 100th.

REP. RACZKA: (100TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. A question for the proponent of the amendment.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Please frame your question, Sir.

REP. RACZKA: (100TH)

Where is says in sub parens 1, the parent's income, assets and other obligations are to be considered. Would you agree that that would also include the parties' savings or lack thereof for retirement?

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144TH)

Through you, u, Madam Speaker, I believe that could also be included in the broadest sense because that is also an asset.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Raczka.

REP. RACZKA: (100TH)

I thank Representative Fox for his answer. As I spoke to this bill when it first appeared to us, this is a very difficult area of the law for anyone who practices in it.  The calls are always close, whether you're doing the right thing or the wrong thing. What this bill does, in many ways, is substitute a judge's opinion for a parent's opinion as to what is proper or what is not proper for higher education.  And let's be candid with each other. There's going to be a bit of expense to this. In our judicial system, our family relations officers are probably some of the most overworked people we have and I can't clearly envision that this is going to be one of those straws on a camel's back that is going to require additional people to be put on in that very important office.  But having said that it is a close call, we always have to go back to what is in the best interest of our children and I think this bill, right now, addresses that concern. I think Representative Feltman's comments are very much on point as to the importance of a college education and how children who are in a divorced parent situation frequently suffer.  And that is why, if you will, I came around and now fully support this amendment and I hope it passes.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Thank you, Sir. Representative Bernhard of the 136th.

REP. BERNHARD: (136TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. A question through you, Madam Speaker, to Representative Fox if I may please?

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Please proceed, Sir.

REP. BERNHARD: (136TH)

Representative Fox, I know you've been asked this question twice already and I've listened to the answers. And just for clarity sake, my own perhaps for other members of the Chamber as well.  When the support order that's referenced in line 3 is entered, is that the support order that's entered at the time that the parties, the marriage is dissolved, or is it the educational support order that's entered at the time that the child is now seeking to go to college and is coming back to the court, or one of the parents is coming back to the court requesting that funds be made available by the presumably, the noncustodial parent to help pay for the education of the child? Through you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144TH)

Through you, Madam Speaker. As I interpret the question, it could be either because it certainly could be the scenario where at the time of the dissolution either by agreement or by court order, an educational support order is an order entered by a court requiring a parent to provide support for a child or children.  Now, in addition to that, at the time the divorce is entered, it is also feasible that the court will allow that issue to remain open and allow it to be debated and discussed at a subsequent date when someone is coming back when the child is now 15 or 16 and asking the court to enter an order at that time as to what ought to be paid by the respective parties for the upcoming college education.
I don't mean to circle around your question but I think in the broadest sense it can be at the time the order is entered or it can be at a subsequent date if the court leaves that issue open.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Bernhard.

REP. BERNHARD: (136TH)

Thank you for the answer and for clarity's sake, maybe for legislative intent, another question, through you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Fox. I'm sorry, did you have a question, Sir?

REP. BERNHARD: (136TH)

Yes, Madam Speaker. I'm asking permission to ask another question.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Oh, please proceed.

REP. BERNHARD: (136TH)

Is it fair to say, then, Representative Fox, that the considerations that are set out in the balance of this amendment numbered one through six may very well be considerations of the court at two junctures.
That is, if there's no agreement, obviously we're talking about a situation where there's no agreement and the court now has to enter a decision dissolving the marriage. He's going to be confronted with it. Does he enter a future support order to be evaluated at some future time when the child reaches the age of majority and is seeking to go to college?  Does the judge evaluate all of the considerations that are set forth there at the time that he decides whether to leave the issue open at some time in the future.  In other words, does he evaluate all of these considerations on two junctures. One, whether to enter it at all at the time of the dissolution of the marriage and then two, at the time that he actually has to deal with whether or not monies will be made available for the child's education.  Through you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144TH)

Through you, Madam Speaker. Yes.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Bernhard.

REP. BERNHARD: (136TH)

I thank the Representative for his answer. That's very helpful.  I rise in support of this amendment. I think it's going to be a very, very interesting piece of legislation as it works its way through the court system.  I do think we've imposed upon our jurists some very serious considerations but I do think it's a good direction to be heading in and I applaud the effort and energy that went into it by the drafters and I appreciate them bringing it to this Chamber.  Thank you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Thank you, Sir. Representative Stone of the 9th.

REP. STONE: (9TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I, too, rise in support of the amendment. I want to commend Representative Feltman for his hard work on both the underlying bill and this amendment and also appreciate the efforts of my cosponsors on this amendment in making what was a good bill and with all the good intentions what I would consider to be a better bill should this amendment pass.  My original concern as I expressed in the Judiciary Committee with the bill and have talked about since, was that we were hitting a target that was perhaps overly broad, that we putting children who might be a product of a divorce in a better position to receive assistance from their parents than children of in tact families.  Right now there's no obligation on the part of in tact families other than perhaps a moral one for parents to support their children for post high school education.
With this amendment and by providing for what I call to Judiciary the but for test, a finding that the court initially must make that this, that a child product of a divorce would have received assistance, that it was more likely than not that that child would have received assistance if their parents remained an in tact family.  I think we're putting children of parents who remain together, as well as children of families who are unfortunately living apart in the same position. I think it makes a good bill better and I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.  Thank you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Thank you, Sir. Representative Farr of the 19th.

REP. FARR: (19TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. For the second time. I just wanted to respond to a comment by Representative Prelli about concerns about why are we having a limitation on the educational support obligation, parents in a divorce setting when parents who are not divorced don't have such a limitation.
It's important for the body to understand the dynamics of what happens in these families. For the in tact family, they're always making decisions as to which college youngsters can go in part, based upon their resources.  They are also making those decisions based upon the educational need of the other youngsters. So if you have three youngsters in your middle class, you may decide that you can't afford to send all three to a private institution, so you make a decision. Which ones go to private schools, which ones go to public schools.  When you terminate that marriage and the parties get remarried, which is oftentimes the case, the parties will oftentimes have second families. Now the problem comes up, say the wife from the first children says that well, she would like the children to go to a private school and it's going to cost a lot of money but she wants to see that happen.  But if the husband is remarried and has other children, for him to afford to send all of the children by the first marriage to a private school, may deprive the youngsters in the second marriage from getting an adequate education.  So, because the families are not in tact, because you're talking about blended situations here, it is very, very difficult to figure out an equitable way in which to handle that.  So the final resolution here was to recognize that there was going to be an obligation for the children of that first family, but to put some kind of cap on it so that we would not have the situation where the children from the first family depleted all of the resources and there was nothing available for the subsequent family.  It's a very difficult, complex area. We don't have, I don't think anybody suggested this is perfect or that there's an easier or perfect answer to it. I think all of those who have had extensive experience in this area recognize how difficult it is and this is something which we think is a step forward from where we are today to a situation where the parties will be in a better position to negotiate a fair resolution of this issue and I would urge adoption. Thank you.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Thank you, Sir. Representative Green of the 1st.

REP. GREEN: (1ST)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, just one question to the proponent of the amendment.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Please proceed, Sir.

REP. GREEN: (1ST)

Thank you. Just some clarification. When someone, if someone were to have an order to do the child payment for college and they agreed to that when the child was young and part of that agreement is that they will pay a certain amount of money each month to some kind of program or some kind of savings for the child, if they do not pay that payment, let's imagine they're paying $ 200 a month for ten years and they do not make that payment, would that be considered violation of the child support order?

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144TH)

Through you, Madam Speaker, it is my opinion that unless otherwise provided, that person would have the right to come back to court to seek relief if there had been some substantial change in circumstances.  In the fact pattern that you represent, there is a court order directing the person to pay X number of dollars, that person does not do it, in my opinion that would technically be a violation of the child support order for college education.

REP. GREEN: (1ST)

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Thank you, Sir. Representative Chapin of the 67th. You have to press your mike, Sir.

REP. CHAPIN: (67TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. A question to Representative Fox through you, please?

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Please proceed, Sir.

REP. CHAPIN: (67TH)

Thank you. In line 20 and 21 of the amendment, where it strikes books in line 46 and medical expenses in line 46, and instead in line 25 through 27 says, an educational support order may also include the cost of books and medical insurance for such child.  Can you explain to me why medical expenses was deleted in lieu of medical insurance. And in the case that the student may incur medical expenses that are not covered by the insurance, whose responsibility would it be to pay those medical expenses?

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: (144TH)

Through you, Madam Speaker. The concept of dental expenses which was originally in the bill and medical expenses which was originally in the bill, those two concepts were taken out, the thought process being that they were too broad and too vague and in many instances would not be covered by applicable insurance policies and would be a different issue dealt with in a different clause of what would hopefully be a separation agreement.  The thought process was that it was important to keep in the concept of medical insurance and that in most instances, medical insurance coverage is provided for an individual even beyond the age of 18 and up to the age of 23, if that person is a full-time student.
So the feeling was, it was more likely that that issue could be dealt with under existing policies and existing provisions.  Now, if in fact that individual had expenses beyond the insurance, then more often than not that is dealt with in a separation agreement. In the instances that I've seen more often than not, it is provided for that that will be shared equally between the parties.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Chapin.

REP. CHAPIN: (67TH)

I thank the gentleman for his answers. I rise in support of this amendment and on a personal note, language very close to this was part of my own divorce decree over seven years ago.
With all due respect to my good friend and colleague, Representative Prelli, there's nothing that prevents me as a responsible father from going well beyond UConn's tuition when my sons are eligible for college and certainly as a responsible parent, that is something that I would be more than happy to do and hopefully will have that opportunity.  I think that this particular amendment makes a well intentioned bill all that much better and I support it wholeheartedly. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Thank you, Sir. Would you care to remark further on the amendment before us. Would you care to remark further on the amendment before us.  If not, I'll try your minds. All those in favor please signify by saying "aye".

REPRESENTATIVES:

Aye.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

All those opposed, "nay"? The amendment is adopted. Would you care to remark further on the bill before us as amended? Representative Feltman of the 6th.

REP. FELTMAN: (6TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I think we've had a good discussion here. I think in the context of the amendment, we've really debated the bill. And while the bill does not go as far as some of us had hoped and as the Law Revision Commission had proposed, I think this is in the law of steady habits, in the state of steady habits, excuse me, where we try to take one step at a time and be very careful that that step is sure and that all the consequences are thought through.  I think the way we have emerged from this process when everyone on the Committee and others have engaged in fine tuning it and making sure that we know exactly what we're doing and we walk before we run. I think this is a good product and I think it will do good for the children of our state and the adults of our state and I urge adoption.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Representative Doyle of the 28th.

REP. DOYLE: (28TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I'd like to comment on the bill.  In the Judiciary Committee I was not, I voted against the bill. I was not a supporter of it.   I would just like to commend the efforts by Representative Fox, Cafero and others on the amendment that was just passed. I believe it does make this bill better.   But from my perspective I think it makes a bad bill better. I think this bill, the bottom line, it's an unfair bill. It treats divorced individuals, people that are separated or in a situation where they're unmarried, where the responsibility for child support requires them to pay for post secondary education whereas an individual that's married, there is no responsibility in our law today.   Now if we were, I had amendments filed which I will not call but they referenced the general topic to create a responsibility for all people to do this. I think this is fundamentally fair.  I think it violates the 14th Amendment of the U. S. Constitution equal protection clause because I think it's unfair in terms of, granted there may be inequity here in terms of a divorce child but a situation of a child in a married situation, the child also could be discriminated against or the like or not provide post secondary education.  Under the equal protection clause, basically you can summarize is like persons and like circumstances should be treated similarly. In this case, I do not think it is fair. I think it's discriminated against individuals that may happen to be divorced, separated or in child support situation.  The Supreme Court of the State of Pennsylvania in 1995 acted upon a similar statute, albeit not the exact statute but the same topic was addressed by them. The court again discussed the 14th Amendment and that court held, ultimately we can conceive of no rational reason why those similarly situated with respect to needing funds for a college education should be treated unequally.  While I understand the merits and the impetus for this bill, I think this bill should be treated by us in a more uniform manner where all children should be treated equally and I think therefore, because of that I will vote against the bill and I would urge my colleagues to also vote against.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Thank you, Sir. Would you care to remark further on the bill before us as amended? Would you care to remark further on the bill before us as amended?  Patrick Flaherty of the 8th.

REP. FLAHERTY: (8TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I also rise to oppose the bill as amended.  I'm very concerned, when this bill was first brought out last week it was suggested that this was an inadvertent consequence of our decision to lower the age of majority.  I respectfully suggest that it was actually just a consequence of that. We as a state have made a decision that at 18, someone has the right to vote and has other responsibilities as an adult.  I certainly admire the great amount of work that has gone into this legislation and the care that has been taken to respond to many of the concerns. Although I would observe that last week in response to some of those concerns, we were told that at the time of divorce would be the one time that an order would be issued and then today we're told actually it was to give some flexibility so that you could come back when the child is older.  As a nonlawyer, the part about the bill that just strikes me as odd is that a person who is an adult under our statutes, or perhaps the father would be ordered to pay that child's tuition, perhaps the father would not pay that tuition and the child would be in a position where they need their tuition paid. They have no right to go to court. The school has no right to go to court, but in fact they would have to go to their mom to bring that action.  The lawyers in the Chamber assured me that this is very normal, that this is the way things should work. But from my perspective that does strike me as somewhat strange and therefore I would be opposing the bill.  Thank you, Madam Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Thank you, Sir. Would you care to remark further on the bill before us as amended? Would you care to remark further on the bill before us as amended? If not -- Representative Nystrom of the 46th.

REP. NYSTROM: (46TH)

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Briefly, I rise in support of the bill. I did prefer the original language but I think this still has value.  I recently sat in on an entire divorce proceeding back in December for the first time. I attended a trial. I sat there for four days. I have to tell you that it was not a pleasant experience but this very issue was one of the biggest issues of contention and very often the children are those who are left without and I still think this represents a significant gain for them in the future.  So I will be supporting this and urge my colleagues to do so. Thank you.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Thank you, Sir. Would you care to remark further on the bill before us as amended?  Would you care to remark further? If not, staff and guests to the well of the House. The machine will be opened.

CLERK:

The House of Representatives is voting by roll call. Members to the Chamber.
The House is voting by roll call. Members to the Chamber, please.

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

Have all members voted? Have all members voted? Please check the board and be sure your vote is properly cast. If all members have voted, the machine will be locked. The Clerk will take a tally.
The Clerk will please announce the tally.

CLERK:

H. B. 5088 as amended by House "A" and "B".

Total Number Voting 147
Necessary for Passage 74
Those voting Yea 120
Those voting nay 27
Those absent and not voting 4

DEPUTY SPEAKER CURREY:

The bill as amended passes.
Will

 

Senate Proceedings

May 8, 2002

 

 

THE CLERK:

Calendar Page 7, Calendar 462, File 432, Substitute for H. B. 5088 An Act Concerning Educational Support Orders as amended by House Amendment Schedules "A" and "B". Favorable Report of the Committee on Judiciary.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Coleman.

SEN. COLEMAN:

Thank you, Madam President. I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's Favorable Report and passage of the bill.

THE CHAIR:

The question is on passage. Will you remark.

SEN. COLEMAN:

Madam President, members of the Senate, this bill would provide for post majority educational support for individuals in the State of Connecticut by authorizing judges and family support magistrates to order parents to support their children for up to four full academic years when enrolled in accredited colleges or vocational programs after high school and until they reach the age of 23.  Courts can do this under this bill only if they find it more likely than not, that parents would have provided this support if the family had remained in tact.  The bill specifies a number of circumstances courts must consider and conditions that parents and students must satisfy in order for such an order to be entered.  The bill also states that it does not create a right of action by a child for parental support for higher education and that its coverage does not include support for graduate or post graduate education. It applies to cases where the first child support order is entered on or after October 1, 2002.  The bill has been considered and passed by the House where it was amended to limit the four academic years, the duration of college support obligations would terminate on the offspring's 23rd birthday and limits the situations in which parents can seek educational support orders when they did not request them in their divorce, annulment or a separation degree.  An additional amendment, House Amendment, required the court to find that support would have been provided had the family remained in tact and required the court to consider parents' obligations to other dependents and academic expenses at the amount UConn charges full-time in-state students unless the parents agree to pay more.  Madam President, the higher education experience, I think we all would agree could make a great deal of difference in the life of an individual and unfortunately, disproportionately, children of divorced parents are less likely to be able to meet the financial requirements of a higher educational experience and so it is hoped that this, that the passage of this bill will be a significant step toward making higher education possible for an increased number of individuals in the state.  I urge passage of the bill, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Sir. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? Senator McDermott.

SEN. MCDERMOTT:

Thank you very much, Madam President. I rise in opposition to the bill. I've had some trouble with it, grappling with it in my mind as to how we're having a different category of student.  If a child and his parents or her parents get divorced when they're at an early age and they have anticipated that they would or would not go to college or had these discussions, I don't believe that a child of a divorced family should have any more special privilege than that of a child that has not come from a divorced family as far as being able to go off to college and who pays for that.  People make the decisions on a college education. In my case, my parents said, if you want to go to college, you've got to pay for it. Work summer jobs or do something else to go do that. They sent us through school and I didn't have the opportunity of having my parents pay for college. I was going to be able to, if I wanted to go to college, to work for that education.  But had my parents been divorced and they were talking about it when I was a young child and they got divorced when I was a young child, which they didn't, they would be compelled to pay for my college education or a mother could force a father to pay for the education or a father could force a mother to pay for a college education if they happen to be divorced.  This really puts a burden on people up to the age of 23 that I think is unfair under this one case of going to college or not going to college. It gives an advantage to children of divorced, a child of parents who never got divorced wouldn't have this opportunity to pursue this.  I think it really puts a very unfair onus on the system and I wish I could explain things better, but my gut, and so many times up here we have to go by our gut, my gut just has a very bad feeling about what we're doing here and I would not be able to support this at this time. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Sir. Will you remark further? Senator Prague.

SEN. PRAGUE:

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I rise to support this bill. Children of a divorced family face many more traumatic problems than they would if their parents, if they came from a family, an in tact family.  Every child, if it's possible, should go to college and get an education so that they can make a life for themselves, so they can develop a career so that they can have a future. And for those kids who come from a divorced family background, I don't think it's asking too much at all to have a parent who can afford it, give that child the opportunity to go to college and get an education.  It is for me, in my thinking, a small way to repay that child for all the trauma that was caused by two adults who could not stay together in a marriage but did have children, and those children are still their responsibility.  So I urge this Chamber to seriously consider supporting this piece of legislation that would give these young people, who by no fault of their own, find themselves in a situation where their parents are not together, where there is no in tact family to at least have the opportunity to go to college and get an education. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Will you remark further? Senator McDermott, for the second time.

SEN. MCDERMOTT:

Thank you, Madam President. For the second time. I hardly ever rise for the first time and I find myself rising for a second time on this.  I just wanted to clarify a little bit further on my opinion on this, that if a child of divorced, if you have two children in a divorced family and one of the children decides that they want to go off to college, they're going to be able to qualify for extra assistance from the other parent to be able to pay for that college.  If one of the children wants to go to a vo-tech school, a vo-tech high school and get a trade and go into the working world at the age of 18 and get a job and has a good trade, which by the way I did. I have a trade as a machinist and I went out and became a machinist for a while. That puts the two children now at a disadvantage.  It's that one child who decided not to go on to college but has a trade and is probably very well educated. A college education has not made anybody more educated and in a lot of cases in somebody who were unable to work or get a decent high paying job, they go to a trade school, a vocational high school and get a good trade and go out and get a job. And that person who is 18 years old, maybe has a trade as a mechanic, an auto mechanic and when they get out of high school they need to buy a lot of tools to be able to get a job as an auto mechanic. They have to come into that job with those tools.  Are we going to then require that the, when the spouse of the divorced parent pay for those tools so that that child, before they're the age of 23, can get a job in their designated field.  Or, just because you go on to college, that you are then on the hook to pay for those extra costs of a college education. I think that could be very discriminating in the future to people who choose not to go to college. If you have one person, like I said, two different people in the family go different directions.  I think that the age of 18 has been the age of when you are obligated to pay for the expenses of your other child, once they are 18, they become an adult, to be able to go out and make their way in life. To be able to get their job or go on to college.  But I don't think the expenses should go on until you're at the age of 23. I think there's a lot more into this issue that needs to be looked at a lot more carefully before we react in this way.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Freedman.

SEN. FREEDMAN:

Thank you, Madam President. I rise in support of this bill and as I was reading through and listening to Senator McDermott's remarks, I do believe there is an option of going to another type of school other than a college where the parent might want to pay for that child's continuing education.  I don't believe our vo-tech schools, the way they're currently set up take students other than high school students. When you get to that next level, you then go on into something else and I think the occupational schools would probably be part of, or could be considered part of that court determination.  But also as I'm reading this, it also sounds like it is something that the judges should be considering if the parents, to take the child's best interest to heart at the time that this experience is going on in their lives. And I think far too often when divorces occur the parents are so involved in what's happening in their own personal situation that they forget about many times, the future of that child and how that child or children will ultimately end up, particularly when it comes to either furthering their own education by going to college or going to a trade school or going into an area where they want to be able to do something with their own lives.  So I think for those reasons, this bill does bring another issue to the table that I believe should be considered at the time when the parents are in this very awkward situation.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? Senator Kissel.

SEN. KISSEL:

Thank you very much, Madam President. I'll be very brief.  I also rise in support of this particular piece of legislation. The Judiciary Committee has grappled with this over the last two years. We sent it out to the Law Revision Commission. They came back with various proposals and sent it back to us. And actually, it's gone through several permutations just in the last month or so before it's reached us here in the circle.  I guess the approach that I take, and while I'm sympathetic to those who might be, the adults that might be involved in a divorce is that when two people embark upon having a family and having children, that it should be in the back of their mind at that time that there are certain responsibilities that enure with that.  And I think that in this day and age, while I have the utmost respect for my friend, Senator McDermott and the idea that you can go out and make a living in trades or as a mechanic, I think that unlike 20, 25 years ago, it's not enough just to get a high school graduation. You almost have to get some form of higher education.  And even if you come out of high school with a trade, the idea is that you probably would want to go and hone that trade and go to some other school whether it's a tractor-trailer driving school or if it's the University of Connecticut or if it's Wesleyan or somewhere else.  And so, I think what this bill does is sends a very clear message, that if you are going to get married, there's rights and responsibilities that inure with that decision and if you have children, there are rights and responsibilities that inure with that. And that those responsibilities cannot be abrogated simply by getting a divorce.  In the public hearing on this particular measure this year in the Judiciary Committee, I distinctly remember two young ladies that came from down state. One was already in college, she was about 19, and the other one was 17.  They had excellent grades through high school and they were nervous. They had never testified. Most people never testify in the Legislature and they said over the last three years there was a bitter divorce between their father and their mother while they were still in high school and dad turned to them and said, I'm sorry, kids, I'm not paying for college. I'm done with this family. I'm walking away.  And the mother had no means, during that proceeding, to try to get that father to live up to the obligations that he had led these ladies to believe would be there all the way up until they were juniors and seniors in high school.  How cruel. And there was nothing that could be done through the divorce proceedings to allow for that post majority educational support.  Well, we pass this law today and as these proceedings roll forward with Judicial Review and a working out between the parties, that kind of situation will not occur again.  And I feel very strongly. And I felt very strongly that those young ladies' testimony meant a great deal and if they're watching out there, they helped a lot of people focus on this issue. And for that reason, Madam President, I also strongly support this piece of legislation. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Sir. Will you remark further? Senator Cook.

SEN. COOK:

Thank you very much, Madam President. Those young ladies were from Mystic and I thought they were very brave to come and speak the way they did, knowing that this has been a proposal that has actually been discussed and thought about by the Judiciary Committee for many, many years and has not succeeded.  And I rise in support of this bill to make sure that we can give dissolving families an opportunity and a forum to be able to work through this very difficult problem.
You know, support orders and divorce decrees say things in them like the parties will work, or they'll make every effort to, that kind of language, to try to get the two divorcing parents to recognize a responsibility for the educational futures of the children.  I think this will help give a tool to make that discussion a more fruitful discussion between parties that sometimes can have a very acrimonious dissolution.  Just the fact that it will be part of the discussions in a more official way, I think, is going to be able to help families resolve this issue for children.  And so therefore, I offer that support for this legislation. I thank the Judiciary Committee for bringing it forward to us today but I'm most appreciative of the two young ladies from Mystic who did come up and really give a personal face to the crisis that they faced and that many other children throughout the state do.  Thank you very much.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Senator LeBeau.

SEN. LEBEAU:

Thank you, Madam President. I rise to speak in favor of this bill also. Initially, when I heard about this bill I had much the same feelings as Senator McDermott and I respect his reservations.  But since the bill has been amended by the House and some limits have been put on the total amount of dollars that can be expended, the intentions, the availability from other sources for college education, I think this bill is a much stronger bill than it was. I think it's limited. And we're not going to extend childhood here forever but we're going to take care of families and help families, even though they're divorced families, not in tact families, we're going to help those kids to have a better life.  We know the statistics on children, of the lesser number of children, children of divorce who go on to college. We know that the major problem here is the dollars. This bill has been modified to put some limits on it. It's a good bill and I think we should give it our wholehearted support.  Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Sir. Will you remark further? Senator Coleman.

SEN. COLEMAN:

Thank you, Madam President. The, my colleagues who spoke in support of this bill have done a good job in clarifying some of the concerns that Representative McDermott has raised, and I don't mean to belabor that point. But just to make it entirely clear that the bill does provide an option for the child to attend either an institution of higher education or an occupational school.  Additionally, Senator McDermott, I believe, raised the issue of what happens when a noncustodial parent has other obligations and the bill certainly makes that one of the criteria to be taken into consideration by a judge or magistrate before entering an educational support order.  And specifically, at line 16, of File 432, it says that the circumstances, the relevant circumstances to be considered include the parent's income, assets, and other obligations.  And finally, one of the things that Senator McDermott raised as a concern of his is the notion that a child of a divorced family can compel parents to pay for a college education under this bill while parents of in tact, cannot. And I suppose that is true and it's also an unfortunate consequence of divorce.  But it is also true that in tact, the parent in an in tact family does not necessarily have to provide child support to a child. While divorced parents cannot have a divorce decree enter without some order addressing child support.  I think the two situations are somewhat analogous and I think it is appropriate to say that the court does provide a forum for joint decision making on the part of divorced parents and sometimes that is something that is entirely necessary and needed.  And in providing that joint decision making, it would take into consideration as we oftentimes do in the State of Connecticut and other places, what are the best interests of the child, and attempts to approximate what would occur if the family had remained in tact.  And in fact, the bill provides that is one of the findings that a judge would have to make in order to enter an educational support order. That is at line 23, the likelihood that the parents would have provided support to the child for higher education if the family were in tact.  As is often the case, the bill is not a perfect bill. I don't think it addresses or covers every possible situation, but I think the Committee is to be commended for the work that it has devoted to developing this bill, and as near as possible I think the bill makes it even more likely that deserving kids in the State of Connecticut will have the opportunity to pursue higher education and will not be foreclosed from that opportunity or that advantage merely because a parent was able just decline and refuses to contribute to educational support of the child.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Will you remark further? If not, would the Clerk -- Senator Fonfara.

SEN. FONFARA:

Very briefly, Madam President. Thank you. Madam President, I think that for me, the issue here is spoken to by some of the testimony provided by the chief attorney in the Connecticut Law Revision Commission in which he states that such a policy such as the concerning educational support orders involves the state intrusion into an area traditionally the province of the family. In particular, intruding on the parental discretion of divorce for single parents with respect to their adult children while respecting the same interests in the context of an in tact family.  And I think that is a critical question. However, they also say that this policy would appear to further legitimate public interest in education and well being of our children. And I think that's the important piece here, is that does it advance the interest, the educational opportunities and the well being of our children. And I think this does.
And I think there are examples of the expectations of parents that we would think that there wouldn't need to be state intrusion. Compulsory education for elementary and secondary education for children. Our laws require that. You would think that parents, they would argue, I don't need to be told to send my children to elementary school or high school, I'm going to do that. But we have a law that requires it.  We have laws regarding the number of hours that children can work. One would argue, or some could argue that we don't need a law for parents to know whether or not their children should work 40 hours or 20 hours or 10 hours, but in fact we have a law that requires, or limits the number of hours that children can work.  And we could probably identify if we took the time, a number of areas in which the state has felt that intrusion into what would be considered the domain of the family is in the interest of the public at large and in the interest of the children.  I think this is one of those areas where we would think that the interest of parents divorced, separated, single parents, what have you, would be having the children's interest in their education paramount. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen and this provision at least puts this consideration into play. And I think that is a worthy objective and I urge support of the bill. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Sir. Will you remark further? If not, would the Clerk please announce a roll call vote. The machine will be opened.

THE CLERK:

An immediate roll call has been ordered in the Senate. Will all Senators please return to the Chamber.
An immediate roll call has been ordered in the Senate. Will all Senators please return to the Chamber.

THE CHAIR:

Have all members voted? If all members have voted, the machine will be locked. The Clerk please announce the tally.

THE CLERK:

Motion is on passage of Substitute H. B. 5088.
Total number voting 36; necessary for passage, 19. Those voting "yea", 33; those voting "nay", 3. Those absent and not voting, 0.

THE CHAIR:

The bill is passed.

 

Public Act 02-128

Substitute House Bill No. 5088

Public Act No. 02-128

AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ORDERS.

 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

 

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2002) (a) For purposes of this section, an educational support order is an order entered by a court requiring a parent to provide support for a child or children to attend for up to a total of four full academic years an institution of higher education or a private occupational school for the purpose of attaining a bachelor's or other undergraduate degree, or other appropriate vocational instruction. An educational support order may be entered with respect to any child who has not attained twenty-three years of age and shall terminate not later than the date on which the child attains twenty-three years of age.

(b) (1) On motion or petition of a parent, the court may enter an educational support order at the time of entry of a decree of dissolution, legal separation or annulment, and no educational support order may be entered thereafter unless the decree explicitly provides that a motion or petition for an educational support order may be filed by either parent at a subsequent date. If no educational support order is entered at the time of entry of a decree of dissolution, legal separation or annulment, and the parents have a child who has not attained twenty-three years of age, the court shallinform the parents that no educational support order may be entered thereafter. The court may accept a parent's waiver of the right to file a motion or petition for an educational support order upon a finding that the parent fully understands the consequences of such waiver. (2) On motion or petition of a parent, the court may enter an educational support order at the time of entry of an order for support pendente lite pursuant to section 46b-83 of the general statutes. (3) On motion or petition of a parent, the court may enter an educational support order at the time of entering an order of support pursuant to section 46b-61 or 46b-171 or similar section of the general statutes, or at any time thereafter. (4) On motion or petition of a parent, the court may enter an educational support order at the time of entering an order pursuant to any other provision of the general statutes authorizing the court to make an order of support for a child, subject to the provisions of sections 46b-212 to 46b-213v, inclusive, of the general statutes, as amended.

(c) The court may not enter an educational support order pursuant to this section unless the court finds as a matter of fact that it is more likely than not that the parents would have provided support to the child for higher education or private occupational school if the family were intact. After making such finding, the court, in determining whether to enter an educational support order, shall consider all relevant circumstances, including: (1) The parents' income, assets and other obligations, including obligations to other dependents; (2) the child's need for support to attend an institution of higher education or private occupational school considering the chhild's assets and the child'sability to earn income; (3) the availability of financial aid from other sources, including grants and loans; (4) the reasonableness of the higher education to be funded considering the child's academic record and the financial resources available; (5) the child's preparation for, aptitude for and commitment to higher education; and (6) evidence, if any, of the institution of higher education or private occupational school the child would attend.

(d) At the appropriate time, both parents shall participate in, and agree upon, the decision as to which institution of higher education or private occupational school the child will attend. The court may make an order resolving the matter if the parents fail to reach an agreement.

(e) To qualify for payments due under an educational support order, the child must (1) enroll in an accredited institution of higher education or private occupational school, as defined in section 10a-22a of the general statutes, (2) actively pursue a course of study commensurate with the child's vocational goals that constitutes at least one-half the course load determined by that institution or school to constitute full-time enrollment, (3) maintain good

academic standing in accordance with the rules of the institution or school, and (4) make available all academic records to both parents during the term of the order. The order shall be suspended after any academic period during which the child fails to comply with these conditions.

(f) The educational support order may include support for any necessary educational expense, including room, board, dues, tuition, fees, registration and application costs, but such expenses shall not be more than the amount

charged by The University of Connecticut for a full-time in-state student at the time the child for whom educational support is being ordered matriculates, except this limit may be exceeded by agreement of the parents. An educational

support order may also include the cost of books and medical insurance for such child.

(g) The court may direct that payments under an educational support order be made (1) to a parent to be forwarded to the institution of higher education or private occupational school, (2) directly to the institution or school, or (3) otherwise as the court determines to be appropriate.

(h) On motion or petition of a parent, an educational support order may be modified or enforced in the same manner as is provided by law for any support order.

(i) This section does not create a right of action by a child for parental support for higher education.

(j) An educational support order under this section does not include support for graduate or post-graduate education beyond a bachelor's degree.

(k) The provisions of this section shall apply only in cases when the initial order for parental support of the child is entered on or after the effective date of this section.

 

Approved June 7, 2002