Graduation Hat and Dollar Banknotes on Table

Who Is Going to Pay the Kids’ College Tuition After Divorce? 

Shep Law Group Jan. 24, 2023

Anyone with kids knows that your obligations as a parent never really go away, they just change and adapt along with your child. And, even if you go through a divorce, you are still legally responsible for providing support for your child until they reach a certain age. However, after high school graduation, many parents want to know who’s responsible for paying for a child’s college tuition after divorce. For help on this topic and to speak with a family law attorney in your area, call us at Shep Law Group in Meridian, Idaho. We’re also able to represent clients in Ada County, Canyon County, and throughout the state. 

Is Paying for College an Obligation for Divorced Parents?  

While all states do have a requirement that both parents continue to financially support their child until the age of 18 or 19, very few carry such laws for paying for college tuition. In Idaho, you must support your child until the age of 18 (or the age of 19 if they have yet to graduate from high school), but there is no requirement that you also pay their college tuition. Child support and college tuition are two separate obligations, and if you’re the non-custodial parent who has been paying child support to the custodial parent, this does not extend to post-secondary education.  

Options to Consider  

Even though there is no state law that outlines how your child will pay for college, many parents still want to help their kids out. You can always work one-on-one with your co-parent to form an agreement about payment. Some co-parents may wish to work with a child support lawyer to draw up a voluntary contract that stipulates how much each parent will pay and what’s included in these costs (i.e. school, room and board, books, etc.). Outlining this upfront and writing up a legal agreement, it can relieve stress for everyone involved and ensure each parent knows what they’ll be paying.  

Alternatively, you and your ex-spouse can set up a college fund (like a 529 plan or custodial account) that you both contribute to during your child’s life, and then when they do decide to go to college, they can use the funds to pay for their schooling.  

Other topics that you should discuss with your co-parent include what kind of school you see your child going to and how this will affect what kind of financial support they get. For instance, a state school will almost always have lower tuition and overall costs than a private or out-of-state school. Perhaps you look at the average costs for a state school and agree to split the costs on this 50/50 with your co-parent, and if your child decides to attend a more expensive school, they’ll be responsible for the cost difference.  

Finally, even if both parents are financially stable enough to support their child in college, they may also need to depend on financial aid for some expenses. The amount of financial aid awarded to a student is based on how much the family is expected to contribute. Therefore, if a student’s parents have a large income, they’re less likely to receive funding. However, if one parent makes less than the other, your child may benefit from basing their application on the lower-earning parent.  

Family Law Attorney in Boise, Idaho 

Tackling rising college tuition costs is a concern for families across the country, and this is true for divorced parents as well. The best way to address these concerns is to come up with a plan as early as possible and ensure both parents are on the same page. For help with this, reach out to our team at Shep Law Group in Boise, Idaho.