Who Will Pay for Your Child’s College Education Post Divorce?

A child’s college education is a big expense, one that many families spend the child’s entire life planning and saving for. So when a couple separates, and when all of their assets are divided—including their bank accounts—funding a higher education is suddenly that much more complicated. Whether you and your spouse decide to divorce when your children are on the brink of leaving home, or whether you make the decision when they are still young, including a provision regarding college expenses is one of the wisest things you can do during your divorce.

At the Clark Law Group, our Dallas child support attorneys advise our clients to think of every possible child-rearing expense prior to the judge handing down a final child support order. By doing so, they can save themselves a world of headache in the future as the child grows and requires more resources to support.

The Language of the Order Determines Everything

As with all legally binding contracts, language is everything. When it comes to paying for college expenses—including everything from scouting schools to yearly tuition—who is responsible for what expenses, if anyone is, is entirely dependent on how the support orders read.

Some things to look out for in your orders are:

  • “The Issue is Reserved.” If the issue is reserved, this generally means that the court leaves the issue up to each parent. The language will read something along the lines of, “The court expressly reserves the issue of each party’s obligation to contribute to the college expenses of the child.” If one parent wants to seek contribution from the other when it comes time to fund the child’s continuing education, they must file a petition with the court. If the other parent has already been funding the child’s education without the help of the other, and if the court grants the petitioning parent’s request for help, relief will only be granted back to the date of the filing of the petition.
  • Retroactive Contribution. If the support order states that each party shall contribute so much as they are financially able to their child’s higher education, the petitioning parent has a good chance of receiving retroactive contribution. This is because both parents already agreed to contribute in some form to their child’s college education.
  • A Child’s Rights to College Expenses. The clearest provisions regarding college expenses are those that expressly state that the child is entitled to a college education, and that it is the job of each party to make such an education possible via financial contribution. If a parent fails to make any financial contribution to the child’s future education, not only can the one spouse file a petition for retroactive contribution, but also, so can the child.

Consult a Dallas Child Support Lawyer

At the Clark Law Group, our Dallas child support attorneys can help you create a support order that clarifies how you and your former spouse are to contribute to your child’s higher education when the time comes. Do not leave your child’s future up to good faith—get an agreement in writing so that your child is guaranteed to have the support of both parents. For help drafting a qualifying agreement, consult with our Dallas family lawyers. Call (469) 906-2266 today.

(image courtesy of Kit from Pittsburgh, USA)

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