The care of children is one of the most difficult challenges that divorced parents face. Georgia courts will help decide which parent should have custody of the children and may impose child support obligations on the non-custodial parent.
While most parents know they will need to pay child support, others may wonder if they also have a legal responsibility to provide for their children’s college tuition. So, who is responsible for the child’s college expenses after a Georgia divorce? Read on to learn about what is and isn’t required of parents concerning their child’s expenses for college following a divorce.
What Does Child Support Cover?
Many people think that child support only covers the child’s basic needs, such as food, clothes, and housing. This is a common misconception. Child support covers a wide range of expenses, as detailed in the child support guidelines for the state of Georgia.
Child support may also include health care, entertainment, transportation, and school expenses. The goal is to provide children with the same advantages they would have if their parents were still married.
Can Courts Force Parents to Pay for College Tuition?
Even after the time to pay child support has ended and the children have reached the age of 18, there are some states where a court may require parents to pay all or part of their child’s college tuition. But, in places where college fees were ordered, the court usually allocates only a part of the college tuition to each parent. This leaves the student responsible for a percentage of their college expenses.
A court may also re-condition a parent’s obligation to pay college expenditures. This re-condition may require the student to keep a certain grade point average.
It may also limit the spending to a four-year academic program or cap the expenses at the cost of a public or state-run school. In other words, regardless of how long it takes a child to graduate, the court is unlikely to order a parent to pay the entire cost of the child’s private college expenses for five or six years.
Yet, a court in Georgia cannot order parents to pay for their children’s college education. This follows the logic that parents in a stable marriage are not obligated to pay for their children’s college education.
But, after their divorce settlement gets reached, the parties may agree to split the cost of their children’s college education. In this case, the parent will often feel obligated to follow through on whatever commitment they have reached about a child’s college fees.
Who Pays the College Expenses in a Georgia Divorce?
Even after child support payments have ended, divorced parents may not agree on which parent should pay for their child’s college. There is no reference to a parent’s obligation to support children beyond secondary school in Georgia family law.
There is also no mention of a parent’s responsibility to pay for children’s college expenses. This is because parents in Georgia are not required to pay for their children’s college or post-secondary education.
Georgia Law Concerning College Expenses
According to Georgia statutory law, the appointed court may instruct either or both, parents to provide financial support to a child under these provisions:
- A child who is not married or has become emancipated
- A child who is registered and attending a secondary school
- A child who has reached the age of majority before having completed their secondary school education
- As long the financial help is not required after the child turns 20 years old
The terms for child support can be enforced by any parent, any nonparent custodian, or a guardian designated to receive child support for the child whose welfare the child support is awarded. Or for the child whose purpose the child support is ordered.
Steps You Should Take, Now
If you are going through a divorce, it takes time and work to untangle your life from that of your ex-spouse. If you and your ex-spouse have children together, you must consider their future, as well.
While it is not required for you or your ex to figure out how to pay for your children’s college after your divorce in Georgia, doing so can help your entire family. By putting a solid strategy in order now, you may be able to avoid future issues. A divorce may also affect your child’s ability to receive financial aid.
So, the more you learn about what to expect, the greater your odds of being ready for the future. Here are a couple of steps you need to take to get things ready for your child’s college expenses:
Create a Plan
When you and your ex are working towards a college education plan, be sure to keep your child’s age in mind. If your child is young when you and your ex divorce, you may agree to discuss it again in a few years. But, if college isn’t far away, it’s a good idea to hammer out the details soon.
Do you both intend to contribute in equal amounts to the cost of your child’s higher education? Is one of you going to cover the cost of lessons while the other covers the cost of books and lodging? These are the issues to address while you have the opportunity.
Consider Future Variables
Taking this step will help you figure out what to do if your child decides not to go to college or prefers to attend a trade or technical school rather than a four-year university. What happens if your child chooses to take a year off before attending school? What if you or your ex-spouse marries again before your child reaches college age?
These are issues that need addressing during the early planning stages of your child’s continued education. When it comes to college preparation, irrespective of your thoughts about your former partner, remember to keep the emphasis on your child.
Are You Facing a Divorce and Need Help Navigating the Path?
Going through a divorce can feel overwhelming. That is why hiring a Georgia divorce attorney can help you during this trying time. We understand the difficulties you face and can empathize with your concerns and needs.
We’ll be there for you to help you make the best choices for you and your family during each step of your divorce. Contact us or check out our Blog section to learn how we can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.