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Who is Responsible for College Tuition in Divorce?

Divorces are legal proceedings that involve many different issues. If you have children, you can count on additional issues such as parenting time, custody, and child support. Another lesser-known issue is paying for college tuition once the child graduates from high school. It’s natural to focus on the most pressing issues and those that will determine what your immediate future looks like. However, when getting divorced, you also need to be looking into the distant future for other issues that can be affected by a divorce. Paying for college is an issue that often goes by the wayside in the chaos a divorce can cause. Here’s what you should know about divorce and college expenses.

Can the Court Order Payments for College Tuition?

While all state courts can order parents to pay child support since it is a child’s right to receive that support, most states can’t order either parent to pay for their child’s post-secondary educational expenses. In Virginia, it isn’t legal for the court to order either parent party to a divorce to pay for their child’s college expenses. However, suppose the divorced parents have a previous agreement about paying for college tuition expenses. In that case, the court can enforce that agreement. Without an agreement, the judge has no legal standing to require either parent to pay for their offspring’s college education. 

If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse decide to add college expenses to your divorce decree, be sure you know what you are agreeing to. The agreement needs to be clear, detailing what will be covered for educational expenses. Will it strictly cover tuition, or will it also include room and board, books, travel expenses, and fees? Will it cover local community colleges, trade schools, public or private schools?

Other Factors to Consider

If you decide to entertain adding college education expenses to your divorce agreement, there are several points you will want to consider. An experienced Virginia divorce attorney can help you examine each of these factors, which could include: 

  • Will the child have obligations? You may want to consider capping your financial commitments and obligations at a certain number of years or make them dependent upon grades.
  • Do you already have college and other savings available? Depending on the age of your children, your financial circumstances can change drastically before they reach college age. If you don’t have substantial savings at the time of your divorce, you may want to be careful about how much you agree to pay.
  • How old are your children? Do you want them to pay for some of their college costs by working part-time? Depending on how your divorce agreement reads, you may or may not be able to enforce this.

Contact the Experienced Virginia Divorce Attorneys at Mahoney & Richmond, PLLC

Paying for your children’s college education is just one element that can complicate a divorce. Among many other common divorce issues, it requires introspection, thought, and compromise. By having a seasoned Virginia divorce attorney on your side, you can ensure that you not only address essential issues but understand your options and their implications. Contact us today to learn more about the divorce services we offer and schedule your confidential consultation.  We can help ensure that you leave no stone unturned when it comes to your divorce and are well-prepared for the future.

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