California Divorce: Who Pays for College After Divorce?

One of the most common issues when children are involved in a divorce is child support. While parents are expected to financially support their children until they finish high school or are 18, child support does not cover college tuition or expenses.

Unlike other states, California doesn’t have a statute that requires postsecondary education to be factored into child support. Similarly, no specific guidelines are in place to determine how divorcing parents should split college expenses.

So, who pays for college expenses after a divorce? This article will explore how college expenses are typically handled in a California divorce and provide tips for divorcing parents on navigating this aspect of their divorce.

How to Address College Expenses After a California Divorce

College expenses are typically addressed in the divorce settlement or court order. That means you and the other parent can agree on how to handle college expenses, and when you include this in your divorce settlement agreement, it becomes legally binding. Here are some of the ways you can accomplish this.

Set Up a Trust or Escrow Account

To do this, you can set up a trust or escrow account with existing funds or pledge payments in the future to provide money for college. This can prevent one parent from breaking the agreement in the future, and the funds will only be available once the child starts college.

Establish a College Support Structure Payment

Another way to handle this is to add a section to your divorce settlement that establishes a college support structure payment. This makes payments enforceable under the law. Be sure to address potential issues such as limits on tuition, when and how payments will be made, and what expenses can be covered.

Set Up a Prepaid Tuition Plan

You can also voluntarily set up a prepaid tuition plan or as part of your divorce settlement. This option allows you to lock in tuition at today’s rate using regular installments or a lump-sum payment. The only drawback to this plan is that you must commit to a particular university or college in advance.

Apply for Financial Aid

You can also apply for grants and financial aid to cover your child’s college expenses. Some examples include:

Financial aid is awarded based on financial conditions. Speaking to a family law attorney can help determine which parent should apply.

Tips for Navigating College Expenses During a California Divorce

Here are some tips you can employ to help make determining who will pay for college expenses smoother.

  • Plan Early — Planning for college expenses as early as possible, ideally before the divorce process begins, will allow you and your co-parent to review your options and agree on how to handle the expenses.
  • Open Communication — Communicating openly with one another can help you successfully navigate college expenses during your divorce. You should be open and honest about your financial situation and work together to find a solution that is in your child’s best interest.
  • Turn to an Attorney — Consulting with a family law attorney with experience in California divorce is highly recommended. They can guide you on the legal aspects of college expenses and help parents understand their obligations and rights under California law.
  • Consider Medication — Mediation is an excellent way to resolve college expense disputes outside the courtroom. As a neutral third party, your mediator can facilitate discussions between parents and help them reach a mutually agreeable solution.
  • Focus on Your Child’s Best Interest — Your primary concern should be your child’s well-being and future success. Prioritize your child’s educational needs and work together to support them to succeed.

Get All Your Questions Answered by the Award-Winning Attorneys at Azemika & Azemika

Although the legal framework for addressing college expenses isn’t as straightforward as child support, parents divorcing in California can work together to meet their children’s educational needs. Divorce can be challenging, but with the right approach and support, parents can navigate the complex issue of college expenses to help their child pursue their academic goals.

At Azemika & Azemika, we are ready to help you prepare for your child’s college career by setting up a financial arrangement to help fund their higher education. Our firm has provided quality legal representation for Kern County for over thirty years and has been selected as “Best of Bakersfield for Divorce and Family Law Attorney” for two consecutive years.

If you’re ready to work with an award-winning team of family law attorneys, contact us today.

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