Am I Obligated to Pay for My Child’s Private School Education?
As many people are well aware of, a private school education can be quite costly. The average cost of a private school education in Florida is $7,721, with the cost of elementary school averaging out to $6,643, and the cost of high school averaging out to $8,709. Despite the high cost, many parents choose to send their children to private school so that they can receive a more prestigious education. While the cost of a private school education may be doable for two spouses who share the cost, when the cost of tuition falls on one spouse’s shoulders, the high-quality education becomes a burden. Unfortunately, when a couple divorces, one spouse may be obligated to foot the entire cost of the private school tuition themselves.
At our office, we help divorcing couples negotiate everything from divorce settlements to support orders. If you are worried that you will have to pay for your child’s or children’s private school education – on top of the standard amount of child support – our child support lawyers may be able to help you come up with an agreement that you and your ex-spouse can benefit from.
The Balancing Test
It can be difficult for a judge to determine whether or not a single parent should be ordered to pay for a private school education, as there are conflicting aspects of the law regarding what child support should be used for. One aspect dictates that child support be used to pay for necessities, such as shelter, food, and clothing; another, however, dictates that child support be used to help the lesser-earning spouse maintain the same lifestyle they were accustomed to during marriage, after marriage. Ultimately, however, child support is used to support the best interests of the child.
With those points in mind, the Florida courts established a test for whether or not a parent should be ordered to pay for private schooling. The test was established as a result of Wilson v. Wilson, 559 So.2d 698, 700 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990), and looks to ascertain the following:
- That the obligated parent has the ability to pay for private school tuition on their own;
- That the expense of private school is within the family’s customary standard of living; and
- That ordering the obligated parent to pay for private school is in the best interest of the child.
While all aspects of the test are important, the most important is the financial aspect. Because of this, the judge will carefully evaluate an individual’s finances and ability to pay for private school tuition. If an individual does not have the means for which to pay for private school tuition on their own but is forced to do so anyways, it negatively affects the child, as now the obligated parent is unable to provide for the child’s basic necessities.
Consult a Boca Raton Child Support Attorney
At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, our child support attorneys work to help divorcing couples negotiate a divorce settlement that is beneficial and feasible for both parties. If you are obligated to pay for your child’s private school tuition but cannot afford it, we can work to modify your support orders. Or, if your divorce is not final, and if you are in the process of negotiating support orders, we can ensure that you are only obligated to pay what you can afford. To schedule a consultation with one of our child support lawyers today, contact our family law firm at 561.391.9943 or online to schedule a private consultation today.