Can You Be Ordered To Pay For Your Child’s College Expenses After A Divorce?
When child support is calculated as part of a divorce, it is usually ordered to last until the child reaches eighteen years of age or until nineteen years if the child is still in high school at the time. A parent’s obligation to support a child, including by paying for educational expenses, usually do not extend to college expenses.
While some parents may start college funds for their children, anticipating that they will assist their children with their college expenses, other parents expect that their children will be able to borrow money for college by taking on student loans. If a divorcing couple has the same mindset when it comes to paying for college, the decision to jointly make contributions is an easy one. If they do not agree however, the parent who wants to pay for college may be left doing it alone.
Florida law does not compel parents to pay for their children’s college expenses after the child has turned eighteen years old, absent an agreement between the parents. Parents can enter into a voluntary agreement to contribute to college expenses, or for one parent to pay for college alone. This agreement can be entered as a court order as part of the divorce. If a parent later refuses to make the payments agreed to in the order, the other parent can take legal action to enforce the agreement.
If parents want to make an agreement to pay for an adult child’s education, whether it is college, technical school, or even for graduate school, they need to be very clear about the expected costs, the limits to how much support will be provided if costs increase, and any other issues that would foreseeably arise. If these issues are ironed out beforehand, there will be fewer chances of disagreements and litigation later on.
The agreement may also have clauses that outline situations under which the parents would stop contributing to college expenses, for example if the child is not performing at a certain standard, or if the child refuses to work in order to contribute to the expenses as well. Any provisions that would let a parent out of the agreement, such as a loss of or decrease in income, also needs to be clear.
Parents who are contemplating entering into an agreement to pay for their children’s college expenses should also consider what would be required of them financially, and what future changes in their lives will mean for such an agreement. If a parent remarries, providing support for college may become a secondary concern to supporting the minor children of the new marriage.
Contact Us for Legal Assistance
There are other issues that parents can agree to among themselves as part of the divorce and present an agreed order to the court. Because of the legal implications of an agreement to pay for college, or any other joint agreement, parents should seek legal advice before entering into such an agreement. For a consultation with an experienced and compassionate divorce attorney, contact the Law Offices of Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida.