Can the Court Make Me Pay for My Child’s College Expenses?
Divorce with children means that parents or going to have to share their time and, in most cases, one parent will pay the other child support for their children’s care and expenses. For a parent who is obligated to pay support, a question can arise: Can the court make me pay for my child’s college expense?
Under Florida law, child support ordinarily ends once a child turns 18 or is 19 and has completed high school. In most cases, that is when a parent’s commitment to provide support will cease. This does not usually encompass paying for your child’s college expenses. However, parties are free to come to agreements on their own concerning payment for higher education. Given the rise in the cost of college tuition, many parents want to incorporate helping their children avoid college-related debt into their divorce settlement.
As with any term of a divorce, the requirements related to agreed college payments must be set out very clearly and in a manner which can be plainly read and interpreted. Information such as who makes the payments, in what intervals, and to what party is critical. It will also be necessary to spell out exactly what the payment obligation will cover. In some instances, parents will include a clause which requires that their child complete a certain number of semester hours by a specific date or maintain a minimum GPA in order to have ongoing support. The parent may also include a requirement that they have access to their child’s academic records in order to verify their progress. Additionally, by identifying this obligation as child support which will go beyond the statutory age limit, it will be enforceable and punishable by contempt should the responsible parent not make the payment.
Planning for your children’s future during a divorce can be complicated. We have knowledgeable and experienced family law attorneys who can advise you on how best to plan for your family’s needs today and in the future. We are here for you and can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.