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Get an education in secondary support

On behalf of Dolan + Zimmerman LLP September 6, 2019

Your children are getting ready to head to college. You’re excited for this new time, but affording college after a divorce can be difficult. Fortunately, you may not be alone when your children are looking at higher education.

Though the age of emancipation is 19, and the typical end of child support, you may be able to make the case for post-secondary education support.

Higher prices for higher education

High tuition prices have college costing more than ever, and it may be too much for you to handle on your own. This is often the case when divorce means you must split funds that were meant for college. But some scenarios can mean you won’t be the only one paying for trips to the bookstore.

  • Reaching common ground: The easiest way, and in many cases the only way, to share costs for school is to come to an agreement with the children’s other parent, which is then enforceable by the court. Agreeable requirements can be outlined, like a minimum GPA or consistent summer employment.
  • Checking the fine print: If things aren’t that easy, you still have options. After July 1, 1997, the state legislature found that courts didn’t have the jurisdiction to order college support in most cases. If you got your judgement before that date and it didn’t already cover college, then your co-parent could still be responsible.
  • New beginnings: The state can’t require both payments at the same time, so this will be the end of child support and the beginning of postsecondary educational support. The amount is up to the court, based on the resources available to the parents.

Limiting orders

The cost of tuition, books and fees are the markers for deciding assistance, while room and board don’t enter the equation. When considering the total, the amount can’t go over the original child support. It also can’t be so large that it leaves a parent unable to meet their own needs. Finally, post-secondary education support automatically ends when the child turns 21.

Making sure your children have the resources to thrive in college can be stressful, but the reward is well worth it. Relax knowing that you’ll have some help in giving your kids one last parental push into the real world.