Child support obligations don't always end when a child turns 18 years of age -- especially if that child is going to college. Higher education expenses can be a complicated issue when parents are divorced.
Generally speaking, you can negotiate who pays for the kids' college educations with their other parent. Whatever you agree upon can then be included in your support agreement. Alternatively, you can let the court make the decision about college costs.
When is the court most likely to consider you responsible for paying for your children's college educations and related expenses? Well, the court usually takes a look at the following things:
- Your financial resources (and the financial resources your ex-spouse has), including any income and investments
- What type of savings funds have already been created for the children's educational expenses
- The academic abilities and performance of the child in question (not all children have the ability to handle higher education or can even gain admission to a college)
- The financial resources the child is able to contribute toward his or her own education through scholarships, grants and (possibly) guaranteed student loans.
A lot of support decisions, just like this one, come down to one big question in the judge's mind: "What kind of standard of living could this child have expected but for the divorce?" Support is designed to help the child weather his or her parent's divorce with as little economic impact as possible.
If you're financially comfortable, you probably can expect your ex-spouse -- and the court -- to want you to contribute to your children's college education. As such, that priority needs to be an important part of your own future plans. However, you should remember that no two divorces are exactly alike -- so no two child support situations are ever exactly the same either. It's wise to get some experienced legal advice about your specific situation.