Paying for a Child's College Tuition after Divorce

Paying for college is creating, yet another, issue for divorcing couples. Joanna Gagis talks to family law expert, Steven Resnick, about parents’ responsibilities when it comes to paying for their child's higher education once they’ve decided to go their separate ways.

3/11/17 #602






"Welcome back to Life and Living. Divorce often presents a number of financial and emotional challenges for families, but one that many don't prepare for is creating a plan to pay for college. Our next guest is here to help parents understand what their responsibilities are as they navigate this very challenging process. He's Steven Resnick, family law and matrimonial law attorney. Welcome to the program. Good morning, thank you for having me. A pleasure to have you. This is an important topic that's affecting more and more people as divorce rates have risen over the years, but why is this issue of paying for college an issue right now? Well, in this state especially where parents are obligated, it's the cost. Increasing costs of $40,000 to $50,000 dollars a year where it used to be, say 20 years ago, it wasn't that expensive, but now since it could take a big chunk out of a persons assets, support obligations, it all plays in now to the rest of the case often. So what obligations do parents have for their children when they divorce? Well, when parents get divorced, if they don't agree, the courts may order one or both parents to pay a portion or all of the college obligation but it has to be in the correct circumstances. In other words, they're not going to have somebody who can't afford to pay, pay. They have to have the ability. There are various factors the court will review. The aptitude of the child. The ability to pay, even from the child the relationship between the child and the parents so those will come into play. Okay, this is probably where it gets a little bit complicated. Let's say both parties get remarried. Who then is responsible? Who has the obligation? How is it calculated who is responsible for what? Well, in remarriage, sometimes the court can look at the new spouses income if that spouse is maybe allowing the other spouse to not work as much but generally it's still just the biological parents that will be responsible, and again, depending what their agreement says or what the ultimate court order says previously as to what the obligation is. What if a parent says “I don't want to pay. I don't want to support my child after the age of 18. I want them to learn to be independent, an independent adult”, can the court obligate that parent to pay? Yes, and often that's when they come to see me. Usually it's when a parent does not want to pay or pay as much as the parent asking for contribution thinks they should pay, so for example if theirs a $50,000 dollar a year obligation..."