Who Pays For College In A Divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 22, 2021 | Firm News

Today, college is an essential criterion for almost any career. Regardless of your relationship with your ex-spouse, you want your children to have the best opportunities available. An important consideration during divorce proceedings, no matter the age of your children, is the question of who pays for their college. 

Exploring the options for your divorce agreement

Virginia state law doesn’t provide any obligations for parents to support a student past the age of 18. Depending on your child/children’s age at the time of your divorce, there could be any number of life events that could occur to alter your financial state between now and when your child is set to enter college. If you want to include your child’s college funding in a divorce agreement, you have a variety of options:

  • Though the court can’t force a parent to pay for a child’s college expenses if they are over 18, they can enforce a written agreement that each parent consented to. 
  • Property Settlement Agreements (PSAs) can prove to have many risks involved for the parent who agrees to pay for a child’s college education without limitations. If this agreement is made part of the finalized divorce, then that parent can face dire repercussions if they cannot pay for a child’s college expenses later on.
  • A parent can draft a version of the PSA that uses ‘aspirational’ or more vague language that states they will do their best to provide for a child’s college expenses while also giving them the freedom to avoid any particular financial terms. 
  • You want the language in any agreement to be as specific as possible. An example of this would be making it clear that you are not also responsible for living expenses if you only agree to pay tuition. Some parents may choose to cap their contribution at the state tuition level, while others might decide to cover more costly private college tuition.

Protecting your child’s future

Parents must attempt to get past their differences and make a solid plan for their children’s future. Whether that plan involves a financial plan to save money for college, agreements to pay certain parts of their expenses or a general agreement to work on this topic in the future, you must find a way to communicate with the other parent and come to a compromise. Think of what’s best for your children, and develop a well-thought-out college strategy.