Figuring out college costs is difficult for divorced parents. Yet, these expenses will be at the forefront of your mind if your child starts their first semester this fall. This may also be the case if they’re in the thick of the application process, preparing to head to school next year. Either way, footing the bill by yourself will likely put undue strain on you.
If you are your child’s custodial parent, your former spouse may have to help cover their college expenses. Before requesting their contribution, though, you must know what California law requires of them.
California’s child support law
In California, child support terminates once a minor turns 18. The exception to this rule is if your child remains in high school past this date. In this case, your support order will end once they graduate or upon their 19th birthday, whichever comes first. Either way, by the time your child starts college, your former spouse no longer has the legal obligation to provide support under state law.
Working out an arrangement
In your divorce decree, you and your former spouse may have detailed how you will cover your child’s college expenses. If you did, you will want to follow your plan, unless changes in either of your circumstances – or your child’s – require you to modify it. Yet, you may have failed to include these provisions. You may fear you are out of luck, since California does not require parents to continue paying child support through their kids’ college years. But you and your former spouse may be on the same page about education. If you are willing to work together, you can create a plan on how you will divide your financial contributions.
California courts cannot force your former spouse to help cover your child’s college costs. But they can uphold any agreement you create. With the help of an attorney, you can work to ease the financial burden of educational expenses.