Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Funding Your Child's College When Divorced: Post Secondary Child Support

It’s that time of year. College-bound seniors are receiving acceptance letters and rejection letters from schools. Parents now wonder how post-secondary education will be paid. I came across this article on the Huffington Post website and have a few items to add:

  1. Check your Order of Child Support. When does it terminate? If you plan on requesting that the court order post-secondary support, you must file for it before termination of the child support. For many, the termination date is the date of graduation from high school, but it is best to check the language of the order as the termination date can vary.
  2. Wait. You definitely need to file your request for post-secondary support before the termination date, but it is also best to wait until you’ve filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and received the financial aid package from your child’s school of choice. This way you know what scholarships, grants, and loans are available for the child at each school.
  3. Narrow school choices. If your child has been accepted at fifteen schools, congratulations! However, it is best to make the request for post-secondary support based on one, two, or maybe three schools. This is likely a discussion that you, your ex, and the child will need to have to determine which school is the best for the child.
  4. Try to negotiate an agreement with your ex. Sometimes parents can agree to the terms of the post-secondary support. Often, they decide that each parent will be responsible for a third of the tuition, room, board, and books for school and the child will be responsible for the other third. Sometimes, the parties agree to split the costs 50/50. If you get an agreement regarding payment for post-secondary education support, you need to enter a new Order of Child Support. Be sure to include whether the cost of car insurance, car payment/upkeep, and medical costs are included.
  5. File for a Modification of Child Support. If you cannot come to agreement with your ex, file for a modification. Post-secondary support is not guaranteed and the court looks at several factors in analyzing whether it will order the parents to contribute to this expense.

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Rachel Luke is a attorney in the Bellevue office of Wong Fleming. Ms. Luke practices family law and represents clients on divorces, custody issues, parenting plans, child support, and more. 

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