Who Pays for College After a Divorce?
College is more expensive than ever before. According to U.S.News and World Report, prices can vary widely, but the average tuition for a private college in 2020-21 was $35,087, and that doesn’t include all of the costs that may be associated with attendance or account for how much inflation may drive up prices in the future.
At the same time, Texas child support laws say that a parent is obligated to pay child support only until the child graduates from high school or turns 18. So what should parents do about college? Who pays for college after a divorce?
When It Comes to College, Be Proactive
Since Texas courts will not force a parent to continue child support payments just because the child has chosen to pursue post-secondary education, it’s important to think of college years before it’s time to fill out applications.
Consider making a written agreement about college expenses now, during the divorce process. If properly drafted, courts in most states will enforce college support agreements.
These agreements can give you peace of mind that you’ll be prepared to support your child’s education. They may also save you the time and expense or resolving disputes related to college expenses later.
Things to Consider in a College Support Agreement
There is no exact formula for every family. What works best for your family may depend on many different factors. To start with, you and your spouse should agree on what “college” means. Does it mean four years at an in-state school? Or does it mean continued payment until graduation, even if that takes longer or includes graduate studies?
Some families agree to deposit a portion of their incomes into college savings funds starting when the children are very little. Other families focus on how payment responsibilities will be divided.
If both parents earn equal incomes, fair payment may be 50/50. But if one parent’s income is greater, a more fair division might be 70/30. Because it can be complicated, it’s best to talk about the matter with your attorney and your financial planner.
Contact the Schneider Law Firm, P.C.
At the Ft. Worth office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., our attorneys can answer your questions about the divorce process, like who pays for college after a divorce. Call 817-755-1852 to talk with us about your situation.