You finalized your divorce almost 10 years ago. Your son was 7 at the time, and the divorce decree required you to make regular monthly child support payments to your former spouse. You have happily done so for all these years, but now that your son is 17 and about to graduate high school, another exciting life milestone is on the horizon: college. As happy as you are for your son, a massive question keeps bouncing around in your head, “Who pays for our kid’s college education after divorce?”
You may be willing to help offset some of those college expenses anyway to ensure your son’s future success. Yet, after all this time paying child support, it is only natural to wonder if the full obligation of a college education also falls squarely on your shoulders.
Let us discuss the ins and outs in today’s blog post.
Are You Solely on the Hook for College Expenses, Too?
Texas law does not require parents to pay for college expenses as part of the obligations imposed by the law to support their child when the parents are in a position where a judge is making the decisions on how each parent is required to support the child financially. In fact, the Texas Family Code states child support generally ends when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes last.
So, using the simplified scenario above, your child support obligations will likely end the moment your child graduates high school.
That said, you may agree with the other parent to pay for expenses for your child after the legal obligation to support your child has ended. However, the court cannot enforce a parent’s promise in the same way it can enforce the obligation to support your child imposed by the Texas Family Code. The only method you can use to enforce a promise to pay the expenses for an adult child is a breach of contract action.
Naturally, any agreement that includes college education must be as specific as possible, including definitions of what qualifies as a college expense, the percentage or total amount each parent is responsible for paying, performance standards for the adult child to obligate the parents to continue to pay, and any additional limitations or inclusions.
Examples of what can be considered qualifying college education expenses include the following:
- Equipment and room materials
- Travel and miscellaneous expenses
- Student club memberships
- Studying abroad
- Technology and electronics
As a proud parent of a college-bound child, you are likely more than happy to help pay for college expenses regardless. However, it is essential to discuss all divorce agreements in advance and have them reviewed by a knowledgeable and skilled family law attorney so that you are aware of the substantial risks of obligating yourself to pay for a substantial expense in advance when your circumstances may change that impact your ability to fulfill your promise.
This ensures each party is aware of their obligations moving forward and that everyone is comfortable with what they are signing.
Call Nelson Law Group Today!!
If divorce is the answer, you need an advisor to guide you through each stage and help you deal with the fears that naturally come with that. We work diligently to achieve a result that ensures you receive what you are entitled to as you move forward onto the next stage of your life. The Nelson Law Group brings nearly two decades of family law experience to every case.
Give our knowledgeable staff at Nelson Law Group, PC, a call if you have any further questions. Our staff is always available. Give us a call today! For more information about Brett A. Nelson, click here.