Should Florida Co-Parents Share The Cost Of College Tuition For Children?
The cost of a college education continues to rise in Florida and elsewhere. While some colleges instituted price freezes last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, living expenses, room and board and other out of pocket expenses can quickly add up for college students. While parents are not mandated to pay for a child’s college education, many parents do so to give their child a leg up and better opportunities without the burden of student loan debt. But how do divorced parents decide who is responsible for tuition payments, especially if the child has turned eighteen? Do divorced parents share the costs of college tuition for their adult children?
College Tuition Provisions for the Marital Settlement Agreement
Many parents decide they want to include a provision in the marital settlement agreement about college tuition before the divorce is finalized. This option is wise because it allows both parties to weigh the pros and cons of adding the clause in advance, even if the child chooses not to attend. If written, the provision should also contain a subclause indicating that if the child chooses not to attend within a few years after graduating high school, that both parents are discharged of the obligation of paying tuition at that point. Another option is to place money intended for college tuition into a revocable trust for the benefit of the child.
Parents should also consider what other associated costs they are willing to share, including the price of housing, a meal plan, textbooks and other out of pocket costs that a scholarship or grant will not cover. Finally, parents should consider how payments will be handled going forward. Should one parent receive bills, pay upfront, and then seek a refund? Or should both parents send separate checks for half the cost of each invoice, each time? Parents should use the marital settlement agreement or parenting plan as a tool to explicitly state obligations going forward.
Parents Continuing Financial Obligations
Florida courts indicate that because married parents are not required to pay for a child’s higher education costs, divorced parents cannot be compelled to pay either. If parents had an unwritten agreement about sending their child to college before the marriage deteriorated, often they should be able to reach a resolution about bearing shared costs because it is in the best interest of their child. Even though a college education is not necessary, if it is something their child has expressed interest in, it should be discussed in the marital settlement agreement before the divorce is final. If a divorce judgment has been issued and there is now an ongoing dispute about who should pay, you may need the assistance of a family law attorney in pursuing a post-divorce modification.
Call Orlando Family Law Attorney Steve Marsee
If you are considering divorce but are concerned about your child’s future, you should talk to a seasoned family law attorney. College education costs continue to rise, and many divorcing parents recognize that the cost of sending their child to college should be shared. If you need assistance, Orlando family attorney Steve Marsee for a consultation on your case.