The whole purpose of child support is to mimic the lifestyle that children would have had if their parents stayed together. That includes but is not limited to housing, food, transportation, clothing, and education. So what happens when they do grow up? They may be legally adults, but they still need support, especially if they are attending college.
Child support laws vary by state. This information will be focused on laws in Florida.
Is It Required?
Florida considers paying for your child to go to college a moral obligation, not a legal one. Non-custodial parents aren’t required to contribute to college expenses. Child support only extends until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. The parents have to agree on how to pay for their child’s education.
The only way to have college expenses enforced in Florida is to agree on it in writing. Voluntary agreements have no legal hold.
When making this agreement, you need to be specific, especially because there are so many college expenses. Tuition is the big one, but books, housing, food, and utility costs all add up. Before any agreement is reached, these costs need to be identified. Leave no stone unturned. You need to consider all these factors, no matter how you and dad decide to divide the expenses. Be as detailed as possible.
There are a few forms an enforceable agreement can come in:
An arrangement to cover college expenses can be written into your divorce decree. You will have to ask for it, and it will have to be entered into your agreement for it to be enforceable.
Child Support Agreement
In your child support agreement, you can include expenses beyond the state-calculated total, such as life insurance or a college payment agreement. It is your legal right to ask for college expenses to be covered in your child support agreement, like in the divorce decree. I can’t emphasize how important it is to have these agreements in writing though, so your ex can’t wiggle out of it when it’s time to foot the bill.
You can establish a trust fund or escrow account as part of your separation agreement so that both parents contribute to their child’s future education. The trust can be part of your divorce decree or child support agreement or outside of it. However, if there isn’t a legal agreement to contribute to it, it cannot be enforced.
Child support may end when they are off to college, but that doesn’t mean your ex shouldn’t contribute to their child’s education. It took two of you to make them; it should take two of you to send them off to college. Their education shouldn’t suffer just because their parents split.
This blog has been written for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. For legal advice specific to your case, you should contact an attorney.