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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My father paid my mother child support until my twin brother and I turned 18. Then he quit. He said, "It's time for your mother to support you."

Abby, he doesn't understand how much our mother has done for us. She gave us all her time and enormous moral support after he left.

My brother and are both in college, and it's really hard on our mother. She says that according to the law, since we are now 18, Dad is no longer legally responsible for us, but that law is unfair!

I understand that years ago most kids graduated from high school and went to work, but today it's different. Education is vital.

I don't like seeing Mom work two jobs and make sacrifices while my father and his new wife have a new house, a new boat, a new car and lots of vacations. Dad says his financial responsibility to us is over -- we're adults, and we're on our own. If it weren't for a scholarship, we would be unable to attend college.

Abby, is there a way to get our political leaders to change the law to make fathers pay child support until their children graduate from college? -- IN COLLEGE IN GEORGIA

DEAR IN COLLEGE: Child support laws vary from state to state. In some (not all) states, fathers of college students must continue supporting their children beyond the age of 18. In Georgia, I am told, child support stops when the child reaches majority -- unless an order has been made by a judge that the support continues for the college education. However, even though the original order may go only until the child is 18, the mother and children can petition a judge to amend the order to continue or resume it. Whether or not to order child support through the college years is at the discretion of the judge.

If that approach doesn't work, there's still a way to complete your education without depending on your mother to carry the entire financial load. You could apply for student loans, or extend your education over a longer period by taking fewer classes each semester -- thereby allowing you to hold a job. Many young people work their way through college, and if need be, you can, too. That would also lighten the load on your mother.

DEAR ABBY: I teach elementary art and was explaining to my fifth-graders how to incorporate their experiences into their art. As an example, I showed them an oil painting I had just completed that was inspired by a recent traumatic event. I had been robbed in my home and left bound and gagged. I took pains to describe the various emotions I experienced while waiting helplessly for my husband to return home and untie me. I showed the students how the painting reflected those emotions.

The class listened very intently. When I finished talking, one of my students raised his hand and asked very seriously, "Mrs. K., how did you ever manage to paint that with your hands tied behind your back?" -- BOUND TO KEEP TRYING, NEW HOPE, PA.

Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

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