Keeping Your Family Strong--Even Through Divorce

Who Pays For College? Divorce And Parenting Obligations

by Kristen Wright

When parents divorce, it's easy to delay thinking about the future. Events like retirement, emergency savings plans, and paying for your child's college education tend to be put on the back burner. Unfortunately, taking this attitude is a mistake. You should take the future into consideration when you negotiate your divorce settlement because it's far easier to address issues like your child's college education in the divorce than it is to bring up later on. Once an agreement is in place, you will have the law on your side, and taking action now will assure your child's educational future. There are two ways to go about including provisions that address paying for college in a divorce decree, so read on to learn more.

Voluntary Agreements to Help Pay for College

Not all states require that this issue be addressed during a divorce, but courts in all states honor an agreement that both spouses agree upon and include in the divorce. To be sure that you include a thorough and clear guideline for the future, consider the following issues:

  • How much each parent will contribute to the college expenses. In some cases, the parent who pays the child support pays all or a greater share of the expenses.
  • What type of expenses will be covered under the agreement? You should go beyond tuition and consider books, housing, food, fees, and more.
  • What type of college should be considered. Naturally, you should consider that private colleges are more expensive, but tuition can vary greatly from state to state among all types of colleges.
  • How the payments will be paid. For example, directly to the custodial parent, to the child, or to the school.
  • How much, if any, the child is expected to contribute.
  • Conditions for continuing support. For example, some parents require the child to maintain a certain grade point average while accepting support.

Court-ordered Agreements to Help Pay for College

In states that require an education support agreement or where one parent is asking that the judge make a ruling about this expense, there are a few considerations:

  1. The income and general financial situation of each parent.
  2. Whether or not the child would have attended college if the parents had not split up.
  3. The child's academic status in high school and the child's career goals.
  4. Access to grants, loans, scholarships, and other forms of financial aid.

To learn more about including the educational support provision in your divorce, enlist divorce attorney services for help in drafting an agreement.