A judge can order either of you to contribute toward your children’s college expenses, assuming you both have an ability to pay. The judge will ordinarily not address the issue of college expenses at the time of the divorce unless a child is in college or will be attending college shortly. If the children are deemed too young, the judge will sometimes specifically reserve the issue. At the time that the children do attend college, either party can come back to court and seek contribution from the other. Even without a specific reservation, either of you could come back to court later, seeking an order requiring the other parent to contribute.
The financial resources of both parents
The standard of living the child would have enjoyed
had the marriage not been dissolved
The financial resources of the child
- The child’s academic performance
In addition to tuition, the court may order the other parent to contribute to other costs: room and board, fraternity or sorority costs, spending money, and other incidentals. Judges often use a formula when the parents’ incomes are roughly equal: mom pays one-third, dad pays one-third, and the child pays one-third. The child’s contribution may include grants or scholarships they obtain. There are no absolute formulas here, and the court employs a balancing test to come up with a fair result.
Finally, the judge can order contribution for costs incurred when the child is living with the other parent during extended breaks, or for other miscellaneous expenses incurred while the child is living with either parent.
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