Who Pays for a Child’s College after Divorce?

One of the single-most costly expenses a parent must afford for their child is college tuition. During the four years that a child is enrolled at a university, it can cost parents tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to help them earn their degree.

So, what happens when a divorce happens before a child goes to college or is already there? Which parent is responsible for affording this great expense? The short answer to these questions can be found in the divorce settlement, provided that this issue was part of it.

If the parents agreed that they would both be responsible for affording tuition, then they must jointly do so. If the parents agreed that one parent would bear the brunt of this expense, then that parent would be solely responsible for paying a child’s college tuition.

Under no circumstances will a judge order a parent to pay college tuition as a condition of child support. Child support expires when a child turns 18 years old or when they turn 19 if they turned 18 while still enrolled in high school. This means that a child support order will naturally expire around the time a child reaches college anyway, but even if this isn’t the case, no court will require either parent to afford college costs unless they were agreed upon in a divorce settlement.

If you have any questions about this or another divorce-related topic, please reach out to our attorneys online for legal advice and counsel.