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Can college expenses become your post-divorce responsibility?

Many parents consider it to be a privilege when they opt to pay for their children’s higher education costs. However, many parents believe that it is critically important that children work hard to pay for their own educational expenses. In general, parents have no duty to pay for their children’s college tuition. However, some parents opt to do so anyway, while others are surprised to discover that they are compelled to contribute to these expenses in the wake of their own divorce.

If you and your spouse believe that it is important to pay for your child’s tuition, you may want to expressly negotiate the terms of your contributions in your divorce settlement. This avenue will allow you both the peace of mind that accompanies knowing exactly what you will be held responsible for and what the court may hold the other spouse responsible for in the event that a disagreement or non-payment arises in the future.

However, it is also important to understand that a court may order you to contribute to your child’s college tuition expenses as a condition of your divorce settlement or child support order. If parents have not expressed any desire to pay for their child’s educational expenses in the past, such an order will rarely be executed. However, if you have expressed that you wish to pay for your child’s education in the past, a family law judge may hold you to that.

If you have any questions or concerns about how your child’s college tuition expenses may factor into your divorce, please do not hesitate to seek out the advice of an experienced family law attorney.

Source: Findlaw Law & Daily Life, “After Divorce, Who Pays for College? 3 Tips for Parents,” Brett Snider, May 1, 2014

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