Nancy L. Sponseller

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College tuition can be addressed in divorce court

On behalf of Law Office of Nancy L. Sponseller posted on Monday, March 17, 2014.

In some cases, an obligation to support children after divorce can extend beyond their 18th birthday or high school graduation. Ohio couples who have older children and are planning to divorce should know that an obligation to pay all or part of an adult child’s college tuition can be written into a divorce settlement agreement and enforced by the court.

If a couple writes this obligation into a divorce agreement, it is important for them to use very clear language and to include any restrictions that may apply. For example, if a parent will not pay for post-secondary education unless their child maintains a C average or lives with one of the parents, a provision that explains that must be written and approved by the judge. Unless the paying parent has a significant change in financial circumstances, they will likely be required to pay the tuition.

While nearly all natural parents are obligated to support their minor children after they divorce, most states do not require parents to support their non-disabled adult children after they are emancipated. Parents who agree to pay their children’s tuition should detail their arrangement in their settlement agreement so there won’t be any misunderstandings when the children enroll in college.

An experienced family law attorney could help a parent who wants to make an agreement to support their children after they finish high school. An attorney may assist a client in drafting a settlement agreement that includes provisions for college tuition. Because judges will generally not rewrite the agreement when it is time for the parent to pay, it is important to consider and include applicable restrictions.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Divorce Settlements and Higher Education“, Brad Reid, March 13, 2014