Law

If a couple gets a divorce, who is responsible for covering college costs for their children?

The subject of who will pay for college is common in divorce, especially in cases involving significant assets, where one or both partners may be able to help their children out financially. We’re here to assist you if you’re divorcing and concerned about providing for your children’s college expenses. To learn more, click here.

There are no mandates in effect across the state.

The state of Alabama’s laws on this issue has evolved multiple times over the years. In the case Bayliss v. Bayliss decided in 1989, the court ruled that a non-custodial parent’s obligation to contribute to a kid’s higher education costs applied even if the child was no longer a minor. In 2010, this was reversed since an adult is no longer entitled to financial help once they attain the age of majority.

What this means is that no matter how much money you or your spouse has, you cannot go into a divorce expecting the court to order your ex-spouse to pay for your children’s college costs. You’ll need to work out the details of this throughout your divorce.

If your child is under the age of 19, they are still considered a minor and you are responsible for their financial well-being under Alabama law. Parents cannot be expected to cover their children’s college costs such as tuition, fees, books, and living expenses.

Though Alabama law certainly plays a role, it’s not the only one. Your divorce decree’s stipulations should also be reviewed. There is no legal requirement for parents to contribute financially to their children’s post-high school education, yet many do so nevertheless.

Now, Suppose You Really Need Money for School.

If saving for your kids’ college is a top priority, we totally get it. Many families would prefer that their children not enter adulthood saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

Like every other aspect of the divorce, this is up for negotiation between you and your attorney. When getting a divorce, it’s important to figure out what matters most to you and what ground you’re ready to give up. If you are adamant that your children’s education costs be covered, evaluate your financial flexibility.

If you want to help your kids pay for college, you could, for example, accept lower alimony or child support payments during their formative years.

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