There has been a lot of debate on whether parents should pay their child’s post-secondary education fees. Yet, it’s nearly impossible for students to cater to their college education expenses unless they get student loans. For a parent, paying college fees for a child comes at the cost of saving for retirement or rebuilding their lives after a divorce.
It’s easy to become frustrated in the middle of a child support case. For the mother receiving child support, the amount is often insufficient to feed, clothe, and shelter the child. For the father who pays support, the money seems too much, and you fear that the money covers expenses not related to the child. A father’s rights attorney in Southern California can guide you in this delicate situation.
Do California Divorces Offer Provisions for College Tuition?
According to California law, a parent’s obligation to pay child support ends when the child is 18 or 19 if they’re still in high school. The exception is where the child has a disability because the law doesn’t contain provisions for adult child support. Generally speaking, child support can be quite confusing and may feel arbitrary.
Even though it’s only fair for you to pay for your child’s tuition, you don’t have any legal obligation to do so in California. However, if you included college costs in the divorce settlement, that plan would be effective once your child begins college. That’s why it’s crucial to consult a Child support lawyer for men in Riverside, CA, before making a divorce settlement.
What Are the Options for Addressing College Expenses in a California Divorce
In a divorce case, it’s understandable for each parent to want the other to contribute to the cost of their child’s education. As with spousal support and property division, divorcing parties have a significant degree of flexibility in addressing college fees for their child. The two most common options for doing so are:
Entering into an Agreement for Payment of College Expenses
Divorcing parents can negotiate an agreement regarding college expenses, discussing the critical financial aspects and any limitations or conditions involved. Crucial concerns for consideration include:
- Does the agreement cover private or public school tuition, and what happens if the child enrolls in an out-of-state school?
- What are the specific expenses each parent must cover on the list of tuition fees, meals, room and boarding, and daily living expenses?
- When and how will each parent make payments?
- Are there conditions the child must meet for the parent’s financial obligations to continue, for example, attaining and maintaining a certain GPA?
- Is there an outer time limit on the time extent of each parent’s obligation to cover the child’s college expenses?
When agreeing on college expenses, it’s crucial to address the issue of child support modification. For example, an agreement to cover college expenses may be subject to revision if there are material changes in circumstances. A Southern California child support lawyer can provide legal counsel in drafting the agreement to prevent future modification.
Establishing a Trust or Escrow Account to Hold College Funds
The second option would be for the divorcing spouses to consider setting aside funds in a trust or escrow account. The option is almost similar to the above agreement, the difference being that it provides greater protection against one parent who may break the agreement in the future.
If the funds required for your child’s college fees are available now and no savings needs to be done, it may be an option worth considering in the divorce settlement. It would be best to work with a Southern California fathers’ rights lawyer to protect your rights and ensure your money is utilized for its intended use.
Can Courts Order Divorced Parents to Pay for a Child’s College Education?
Many would argue that forcing divorced parents to pay college fees for their children while intact families have the freedom to choose whether to pay is unconstitutional. In other words, it amounts to some parents being treated differently than other parents.
Courts hold that if divorced parents have the means, other factors considered, they should pay for their child’s college education. However, the outcome in each case highly depends on the facts, despite the central issue being the same. A Child support lawyer for men in Riverside, CA, can help you understand your legal options.
What Factors Do Courts Assess in Determining a Father’s Payments for College Fees?
Courts will look at circumstances like:
- The child’s needs, interests, and independent resources
- The reasonable expectations of the family
- The father’s financial ability
When a judge considers the facts of one case, they will not force a parent to pay college fees if they can’t afford it. It’s at the judge’s discretion to determine if a parent can afford this expense. A father’s rights attorney can help you to present facts about your financial capability in court to protect your financial rights.
Courts Consider Income and Assets
The court will also assess your family’s assets and income when determining whether you should pay for college. If you have a house, revenue, and a modest 401 (k), the court will look at your income and expenses to determine if you should contribute.
If you have significant amounts of assets, excluding a house and 401 (k), your assets may be a critical determinant of the outcome. However, if you’re a parent over 60 with a few or limited assets or a modest income, you may not have an obligation to contribute. Your skilled Riverside child support attorney can review your specific circumstances and advise you.
Compassionate and Devoted Family Attorney Fighting for Men’s Rights
Every case on parental obligation in paying college fees is different, and the outcome depends on the facts on each. If you’re in the middle of a divorce case and college tuition is one of the issues, you need to take quick action. Consult with an experienced child support attorney to discuss your options, parental responsibility, and rights.
At our Riverside family law firm, we can help you protect your children from an uncertain future while ensuring you operate within your financial capability. We can provide legal counsel on planning your child’s college expenses during a divorce. Call us to book a meeting with us at our Riverside or Corona office.