Filing for divorce is never easy, but if you have a child that is in high school or considering college, one additional question that you and your spouse must answer during this process is how to pay for your child’s college expenses. States differ on their rules regarding child support for college, and Virginia laws are not particularly helpful in this situation. However, you have other legal options to help solidify how your child’s college will be paid for between you and your spouse. To talk to an experienced family law attorney about this issue, call or contact Select Law Partners in Fredericksburg today.
Virginia Child Support Law
Virginia child support laws state that the noncustodial parent is not obligated to continue child support payments after the child graduates from high school or attains the age of 19 years old, whichever comes first. A judge cannot order a noncustodial parent to continue to make child support payments in order to pay for college expenses if there is no agreement between the parents to do so. This rule applies to university expenses as well as payment for any other form of higher education, such as trade-school, community college, and other continuing education.
Incorporating College Expenses into the Property Settlement Agreement
One option for parents is to incorporate the payment of college expenses into the property settlement agreement of the divorce. The noncustodial parent can voluntarily agreement to cover some of the expenses associated with college, like tuition, room and board, books, and fees at the time of the divorce. Many couples utilize an education clause in their property settlement agreement, but it is critical that you cover all relevant aspects of college payment. This includes, but is not limited, the following concerns:
- Defining college or higher education: Does this mean a Bachelor’s degree or does it include all levels of higher education?
- Determining who covers what expense: Who will pay for each type of expense, or how will the costs be split between parents?
- Time limits: Must your child complete a degree within a certain number of years?
- How will payments be directed: Will one parent pay the other, or will payments be sent to the school?
- Is your child expected to contribute: Is there a requirement of scholarships, part-time jobs, or other contributions to costs?
- Minimal performance standards: Must your child maintain a certain grade point average in order to continue payments for college?
Other College Expense Options
If your former spouse refuses to incorporate college expenses into the property settlement agreement, financial aid is also available for your child to pay for college. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is one option to qualify for student loans and other scholarships that can offset the overall cost of college for your child. You can also consider taking out a personal loan from your bank if it comes at a lower interest rate and have your child pay you back once he or she graduates and obtains a stable job.
Talk to Our Office
To learn more about your legal options to help pay for your child’s college expenses, call or contact Select Law Partners today.