When you are married, the costs of paying for your child's college education fall to both you and your spouse. However, when you are divorced, the question of who is responsible for college-related expenses becomes trickier. If you and your ex are having trouble deciding who should pay for your child's college education, here are some things you should know.
Most states do not have laws that would force parents, married or divorced, to pay for a child's college expenses. There have been court cases, though, that have been used to compel parents to pay. In some states, the relationship between the parent and the child can have a bearing on whether or not a parent has to pay.
For instance, in the case Staresnick v. Staresnick, the father was ordered to help pay for the cost of the child's college education because there was an established relationship between the two. However, in the case McKay v. McKay, the court found that a father did not have to help pay for college expenses because the son was unwilling to have a relationship with the father.
In some instances, a court will rule during divorce proceedings that one or both of the parents are responsible for helping a child pay for college expenses. If the court rules that both parents are required to help with college expenses, there could be conditions. For instance, the child might have to report his or her grades each semester to both parents.
If one parent is willing to help pay, but the other is not, the court might be willing to issue a court order that requires the other parent to help. There could possibly be a limit on the amount of help that is ordered, though.
One method of working out disputes regarding your child's college expenses is to talk with your ex. Chances are, your ex wants your child to get a good education, too. Through communication and compromise, you and your ex might be able to reach an agreement regarding the college expenses.
Since state laws are so different, it is important to talk to a family law attorney like London Law Office, PC, LLO during divorce proceedings regarding college-related expenses. Relying on the other parent to automatically contribute could end poorly for the child when it comes time to pay. An attorney will know your options and take legal action to get the help needed.