College tuition and trade schools are both expensive – but young people often need a degree to get started in life on the best footing.
Unfortunately, child support in California only goes until a child turns 18 years of age (or 19, if they’re still in high school). It does not extend to their post-secondary years.
That being said, there’s no rule that says that parents cannot make private agreements during their divorce regarding their children’s post-secondary educational needs.
Work with your spouse to prioritize your child’s future
If you and/or your spouse have the financial means to provide for your child’s post-secondary education, making an agreement now is always in your child’s benefit.
Regardless of how things change in the future (such as if your ex-spouse remarries and has additional children or your child and your ex-spouse have a falling out), the court can enforce the terms of the order.
Here are some things you and your co-parent need to discuss:
- How will you divide your child’s post-secondary education? Will it be a 50/50 split or something else? It should generally reflect your respective financial positions.
- What limits need to be placed on the support? For example, your agreement may specifically state that you will contribute 50% of the cost of tuition for a state college, but not a private one.
- What additional expenses will be covered in the support? Will you and your co-parent cover your child’s housing costs, transportation needs, books and other supplies? What limits need to be placed on those things?
- How will the education be funded? Will you and your spouse agree to fund a 529 college savings plan monthly until your child turns 18, or will you approach the obligation differently?
Remember, once you and your spouse have divorced, the court will not force them to contribute to your child’s post-secondary education without an agreement in place. That makes it critical to have experienced legal guidance today.