Parents always want the best for their children, including a quality education. Unfortunately, education expenses can fall far down on the list of priorities in the midst of a divorce, when custody and other financial considerations become urgent issues. Unfortunately, there is no law that guarantees payments for education beyond that available through public. There is also no law that can force a parent to pay for education expenses beyond secondary school (high school).
Private Primary/Secondary Education
There are many reasons for parents to seek out private education. Sometimes the parents are seeking a better education, sometimes the parents are seeking an environment better suited to a student with special. However, when divorce strikes, private education can often be one of the sacrifices that parents have to make in order to survive the financial realities of running two separate households. Often the parent who maintains primary custody of the children is the parent with the lower income, making it nearly impossible for that parent to afford private education on a meager income, even supplemented by statutory child support. Fortunately, there are laws in place to require a noncustodial parent to pay for a private education, when the funds are available and other circumstances justify the expense.
College education is treated very different from primary and secondary education. Georgia statutes only obligation a parent to support a child until the child reaches the age of majority, or until age 20 if the child is still in high school. There is no allowance for parents to support adult children through college. However, most divorces are settled between the parties, and not by the court through a trial. Parties can agree to obligations beyond those required by law. In many cases, the parents have worked hard to prepare their children to do well in life and value the advantages of a college education. Parents often include provisions in their settlement agreements that address how they will assist their children with college expenses. This is often a negotiating point that can help the parties reach a settlement in a contentious divorce, because it helps ensure continued support for the children beyond the time period a court can require.
This brief review of the issues barely scratches the surface of the complex issues involving financing children’s education. If you need to speak to an attorney regarding issues with your children and divorce, call 678-535-3232 to schedule an appointment with a Paulding County Family Law attorney (serving primarily Paulding County, Bartow County, Cobb County, Douglas County, Haralson County, and Polk County).