While divorce means the end of marriage, it is often far from the end of parenting responsibilities and the concerns that you may have for your children and their future. There are a myriad of decisions (and expenditures) related to your children that need to be considered for the years that follow divorce. And while the immediate milestones are most likely at the forefront of your mind, long-term considerations — such as college — should be addressed in your divorce settlement.
College is a particularly important area given that, in Florida, the obligation to pay child support payments only continues until the child turns 18 or 19 or has graduated from high school or becomes emancipated. Therefore, a parent has no legal obligation to fund a child’s college education as a part of child support in a Florida divorce. However, a voluntary agreement can be negotiated that will provide that financial support for the cost of college by one of the parents.
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Who Pays for College After Divorce?
Things that should be considered include:
What do you consider college expenses?
Standard expense provision wording indicates that the parties have agreed to share the cost of “tuition, room, board, mandatory fees, books and travel expenses”. While broad in nature, it is important to specify particular expenses that you want included or excluded. (For example, what about the costs associated with getting into college such as SAT testing and tutoring fees, application fees, costs associated with visiting prospective colleges, etc.)
Is there a limit on the expenses?
The decision to go to a private university versus a state school can drastically alter the bill for college. Some individuals include a cap on required contributions. Since the cost of tuition is difficult to calculate years in the future, it is often set at the maximum amount charged by a local state university, including room and board expenses.
Who will pay?
While the main emphasis is on what percentage of college expenses the parent who pays child support will be responsible for, it is important to specify who will pay the balance.
Who receives the payments?
Will the payments be made directly to the college, the other parent or the child?
Does the child have any performance obligation?
Some parents include minimum requirements for the number of credit hours per semester and/or a grade point average necessary for the payments to continue.
How will tax benefits for college expenses be allocated?
There are a variety of ways to handle the tax benefits related to paying for your children to attend college including annually alternating claiming the benefits, allowing the person paying the greater amount to always receive the benefit, etc.
Each of the above considerations is complex and can result in considerable negotiation during marriage dissolution. It is therefore important to engage a divorce attorney with significant experience in this area, such as Charles Jamieson. Having a seasoned lawyer ensures that all components will be appropriately addressed and helps accomplish your ultimate goal – a college education for your child.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss divorce in Florida, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. or call 561-478-0312 for a consultation.