Can Child Support Cover College Education?

The issue of who pays for college becomes all the more important in light of the staggering student loan debt and increasingly high cost of a college education.

Is it possible to get child support to cover college education in Pennsylvania? In some states, yes indeed, child support obligations can be extended through the age of 22 to include the cost of a college education. Sadly, in Pennsylvania, there is no statute that mandates college child support.

In Pennsylvania, the law mandates that any child support a parent receives for the child in question ends when the minor turns 18 years of age or is otherwise emancipated from his or her custodial parent.

That said, at the time of a divorce, parents might negotiate an agreement relating to sharing costs of the child’s college experience and other related expenses. The agreement then becomes part of the divorce agreement. In cases such as these, the written agreement would be enforceable.

This means that the parent paying child support would have to honor his or her agreement to pay support related to the “college tuition” agreement in the divorce settlement.

What If We Agreed Verbally to Share College Costs But I Have No Written Agreement?

Interestingly, in a recent case a mom tried to hold her ex-husband accountable for an oral agreement they made during the marriage about sharing their children’s college expenses. However, in this case, the court did not extend enforcement of agreements to oral agreements made during the marriage.

This means that even though the couple when they were married had spoken extensively about sharing college tuition costs for their children when the time came, that didn’t count. The court held that the couple made these agreements while they were married and assumed that they would be living together sharing expenses during the time of their children’s college educations, but this did not happen, so they should not be held accountable to the agreement as the circumstances surrounding the oral agreements had drastically changed.

If you are divorcing and want to protect your child’s potential to receive support for his or her college education, the time to do it is during the divorce. Issues to work out include:

  • College location
  • Anticipation of college costs in the future when your child attends
  • Potential colleges
  • Kinds of expenses that would be share, such as tuition, room, board, activities, travel, spending money, car expenses

Just writing in a divorce agreement that you and the other parent will share college expenses isn’t enough. Agreements such as these should also take into account issues like if there will be an academic standard that the child will be held to, release from the contract in the case of a disability of significant loss of income, and the like.

Seeking to Negotiate a College Tuition Payment Agreement in Your Divorce Settlement? Skilled Jenkintown Child Support and Family Law Attorney

If you are considering divorce or going through a divorce and concerned about how to pay for your children’s college education, discuss your potential options with an experienced divorce and child support attorney. Find out more about how to maximize potential for support for college expenses for your child when the time comes. To schedule a completely confidential consultation with a knowledgeable and caring family law attorney at Joanne E. Kleiner & Associates, in Jenkintown, PA, please call 215-886-1266 or you can fill out our intake form and we will contact you.

Keeping you focused on the big picture and the issues that matter most…
Joanne E. Kleiner & Associates. We serve clients throughout Montgomery, Bucks, Philadelphia counties, and the surrounding areas in matters involving Social Services, Child Protection, child custody, support, divorce, and other family law matters.

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Montgomery County Bar Association
Pennsylvania Bar Association
International Academy of Collaborative Professionals