Divorce, Child Support, And College Expenses

Divorce, Child Support, And College Expenses

As the calendar inches towards spring, many Kentucky homes with high school seniors are abuzz with talk of post-secondary education. Along with the normal discussions about what school to attend, what course of study to pursue, and the number of campus bars within walking distance (parents, we all know this is a consideration), payment is usually a concern as well, especially given the skyrocketing tuition costs in Kentucky and elsewhere.

When it comes to divorced parents sharing a child’s post-secondary education expenses as child support, different states have different approaches. Just recently, Illinois changed its laws, and divorced parents must now essentially divide college costs proportionally between themselves. What is the law in Kentucky?

Child Support and College Expenses

In Kentucky, all child support payments terminate when the child turns 18 or when the child graduates from high school. In fact, family law judges lose jurisdiction over these cases once the children turn 18, so parents who seek reimbursement for college expenses after their children enroll in school have no legal recourse, at least in family court.

Although college expense sharing cannot be a part of a child support order, the court will enforce voluntary agreements between the parties concerning these costs. Such agreements can cover a wide range of expenses, such as:

  • Tuition and books,
  • Room and board, and
  • Transportation expenses.

Along with the expenses, any division must consider the child’s contributions. For example, how much (if at all) should the child work to earn money, and how much (if at all) should the child borrow? Most judges require these agreements to be bilateral as well. In other words, if one parent must make financial contributions, that same parent also must have the right to help make decisions concerning what school to attend, what course of study to pursue, and so on.

Many divorcing couples include reserve clauses in the paperwork regarding the future division of college expenses, especially if the children are young at the time of divorce. However, if either parent wants to enforce that clause, he or she must obtain a clarifying order before the court loses jurisdiction over child support and other child-related matters.

College, and paying for college,is an important phase in any family’s life. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Bowling Green, contact Attorney Gary S. Logsdon. After hours appointments are available.