When you’re a parent getting divorced, you have to think ahead. Over the years, you and your co-parent are going to face a lot of challenges when it comes to raising your children — and you may not be on the same page.
This is particularly true when it comes to things like education. Whether your children are toddlers or teens, you and your co-parent need to discuss your expectations when it comes to postsecondary education and try to come to some agreements.
Can you force your ex-spouse to pay for your child’s college expenses?
Under Pennsylvania’s laws, a parent is usually only obligated to provide child support until a child has reached 18 years of age or graduated high school. There’s no provision that requires a parent to pay for college tuition.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t make an agreement with your co-parent about your child’s postsecondary educational expenses. If you make it part of your divorce settlement, it can then become a court order that is enforceable later.
Some of the expenses you want to consider include:
- Tuition costs: Are you willing to split the bill for a private school, or is a state school (with its reasonable tuition) the limit?
- Electronics: On average, electronics cost college students over $1,000 every year. How will that price tag be divided?
- Transportation: Will your college student need a car? Who will foot the bill for the vehicle, the insurance, repairs and gas?
- Supplies: Books, lab costs and other supplies can be outrageously overpriced. Will you divide those costs evenly?
- Housing: Do you expect your child to live in campus housing? Are you willing to pay for an off-campus rental? How much do you consider reasonable for parental contributions?
Having this discussion with your co-parent today can help everyone in the family manage their expectations. This can also make it easier for your child(ren) to get a good start in life. A well-crafted parenting plan and child support agreement is central to your goals.