College Funding for Children of Divorce

In most divorce cases, child support stays active until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school. At that time, the paying spouse has permission to stop paying the child support because the child is now considered self-sustaining. However, if your child has dreams of attending college or a university, your duty as a providing parent may be far from over.

A recent study says that 29% of all divorced parents assist their children in college, versus 88% of all intact family. Divorced parents who do assist their child with college typically provide about 42% of the funding for that effort, whereas intact families provide 77% of the funding. These discoveries were published in the Journal of Family Issues.

In more than half of the states here in the U.S., the courts have the authority to award support for college educations. Some states prohibit authority by the courts. In California, the law has no requirements for parents to assist in college support for their children, but the courts will enforce written agreements by divorcing parents that have to do with college funding.

If you have agreed to help put your child through college as a part of an agreement, that agreement automatically becomes court enforceable. It is important to refer back to your original child support agreements when determining whether or not you need to pay for your child's tuition. Some non-custodial parents believe it is their pleasure to handle college funding, whereas other parents don't want to assume this responsibility.

It is important to talk with your ex-spouse and your children about expectations regarding college. You may be able to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion, or may be able to patiently work through a negotiable deal with your spouses. Don't hesitate to contact the firm today if you want to learn more about college tuition responsibilities in your divorce!