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Baltimore County Family Law Attorney Blog

Baltimore & Towson Lawyer Discusses Divorce and College Tuition

Written by Amar Weisman » May 18, 2016 »

Picture it: Your daughter runs out to the mailbox to see if the letter she’s been waiting for has arrived -- and today, she finally gets it. The college she was hoping to go to this fall has responded and has welcomed her with open arms. She’s excited, you’re excited -- but then it hits you. You’ve just gone through a divorce that has left you in a weakened financial position, yet you do not want your situation to hinder your child from being able to move forward with her education.

So, what do you do? Sure, you can attempt to get loan after loan to help your daughter, but are there any other options? Along with all these questions, you start to wonder what your ex’s responsibility is with respect to your daughter’s college tuition. Is an ex required to help pay for college tuition? Our Towson child support lawyers explore the issue further.

Tuition Payments: Your Ex’s Obligations After the Divorce

While you may believe that your ex should be made to help pay for your child’s college tuition, current Maryland law does not require exes to do so. Still, in certain situations, a judge may order a spouse to help pay the tuition (if a formal, written agreement was previously reached by the parents). Also, if your child’s brilliance has led him or her to skip two grades and graduate far ahead of the “normal” schedule, a court may decide to change the parents’ obligations accordingly -- particularly since the child has not yet reached the age of majority.

Some spouses may be of the mindset that they have paid child support for years, and if the child attended a private school, they may have also chipped in on those payments; so they have fulfilled their financial obligations once the child turns 18. Legally, parents are only required to make child support payments until the child reaches 18 years of age or until the child graduates from high school (but typically not past the age of 19).

Of course, none of this should hinder a parent from simply asking his or her ex to contribute to the child’s college tuition.

Make it Part of the Divorce Settlement

One way to avoid unnecessary conflict or debate over whether or not divorcing parents should be required to contribute to their child’s education is to make the decision part of the settlement agreement. Whatever agreement is reached at that time, it can be put in writing and the court will be allowed to enforce it should an issue arise at a later time.

Some parents may find it helpful to agree to provide a certain dollar amount upfront for the child’s tuition, while others may be willing to place money in a trust or escrow account for the child to use as needed for college expenses.

What’s important for parents to remember is that no two family law cases are alike, so what happened with tuition in your neighbor’s divorce case may not be the same for you and your situation. Be sure to review any court orders that a judge has made in your case and seek legal counsel if you have questions about your rights and/or obligations under the law. Contact the Law Offices of Amar Weisman, LLC today if you have questions or concerns.