Posted in Child Support on 7th January 2011


Do you, as a divorced parent, have a legal duty to pay for your child’s college education?

The answer is yes, no, or maybe depending upon the state in which you are divorced.

You could be ordered to pay for all or a portion of your child’s college education if your divorce state has a law giving a court the power to award college support, also called post-secondary or post-minority support. College support may be in addition to child support, a part of child support, or a separate payment after regular child support ends. It can be used to pay for an education at a college, university, vocational school, or other type of post-secondary educational institution.

A court having the power to order college support may consider several factors when ordering you to pay for your child’s college education. Some of these factors are:

• you and your ex-spouse’s financial resources,

• your child’s financial resources,

• your child’s aptitude, ability, goals and interests,

• you and your spouse’s expectations for your child when you were living together,

• standard of living the child would have had if you had not divorced,

• you and your ex-spouse’s standard of living,

• you and your ex-spouse’s level of education,

• the post-secondary education of the child’s siblings or half-siblings,

• the nature of the post-secondary education your child wants, and

• your child’s age.

These factors vary from state to state, but logic demands that each one should play some part in the decision-making process.

Even if you and your spouse don’t get divorced in a state that has a law for some form of college support, you can agree to the payment of college support. The agreement must be in writing and must clearly and specifically describe each parent’s duties regarding the payment of college support. It may also have one or more specific limitations to act as a guide or cap. Your state may have case law (decisions from an appellate court) setting out what terms must be in a college support provision so that it can be enforced by a court, either in a separate contract suit or by the divorce court.

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