In Florida, when parents divorce, it is likely that one parent will be ordered to pay child support to the other for their children's needs. While this support is intended to cover the children's necessities, the amount is seldom enough to cover most or all of their expenses. One area which parents may be concerned about is how one or both of them will pay for their children's college.
Florida Child Support
Under Florida law, a parent’s obligation to pay child support typically ends when the child turns 18, graduates from high school, or turns 19. The law does not require that a parent pay for their child’s college education as part of their child support order. However, parents are free to include an agreement in their divorce which compels a parent to pay these expenses.
Including Child Support in Your Divorce
When adding a college expense term to your divorce, it is important to include certain details. A vague reference to one parent being responsible for these costs is likely to be unenforceable. You want the order to name the obligated parent, the expenses their payment will cover, when payment will be made, and how long the payment term will last.
Conditions on College Support
Unlike regular child support, a paying parent can place conditions on his or her payment of college expenses. For instance, you may want to require your child to maintain a certain grade point average, attend classes regularly, or complete a certain number of hours by a specific date to continue to receive these funds. To that end, you could also include a provision which requires your child to grant you access to their school records so that you can verify that they are complying with the order.
For a parent who wants to ensure that the other parent makes these payments as agreed, it is essential to use the right language. Otherwise, the obligated party could decide not to pay, and there would not be any recourse. For the parent who is agreeing to pay, he or she may want to include language which allows for modification of the the order if his or her circumstances were to change. In either situation, before adding a college support term, it is essential that you consult with an experienced family law attorney.
Planning for your children's college during divorce can be difficult. We have knowledgeable and experienced family law attorneys who can advise you on how best to prepare for your family's needs today and in the future. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation. We invite you to learn more about our firm here.