Why Plans to Pay for College Tuition Should be Included in Your Uncontested California Divorce
This is the next post in my series discussing issues which should be considered in an uncontested California divorce. In my last post I provided an overview of this series and explained the importance of considering all relevant issues prior to filing for divorce. In this post I will be discussing why any plans for college tuition should be included in the original divorce settlement- even if your children are very young when the divorce occurs.
San Diego residents filing for an uncontested divorce must understand that California law does not require a parent to financially support college
California law does not require a parent to assist their child with paying for college. While some states are divided on the issue, California ends a parent’s obligation to pay child support when the child turns eighteen, graduates high school, or turns nineteen while still in high school. Neither parent is required to provide financial assistance to a child wishing to go to college.
It is not uncommon for divorced parents to find themselves divided on the issue of whether or not their child should be provided assistance with college tuition. A parent will often take for granted that the other is planning to help with the costs of tuition, books, room and board, etc. When the other parent does not help with such expenses then bitter arguments can break out. The best way to avoid future problems is to discuss the issue when negotiating your uncontested divorce. San Diego parents may make an agreement to place money in a trust for the child. These payments can be in a lump sum or in the form of payments. The trust fund can be earmarked for higher education. This avoids future disappointments, arguments, and surprises. If the parents disagree on the issue of assisting with their child’s future education then the child has more time to prepare their options and will not be blindsided when it is time to go to college. This is an issue which many do not consider, even though they should, when filing for an uncontested divorce.
If college tuition is not specifically included in the original divorce settlement California Courts will not hear the matter
Parents often make the mistake of thinking they can “go back to court later” in order to address issues such as higher education. If the child is very young when the parents divorce then the thought of college may seem very far off and not relevant at the time. However, the Court will not hear an issue on college payments in the future due to the fact college is education that occurs after the parental financial obligation has been terminated. The only time that either parent will have the opportunity to make a legally binding agreement with regards to the child’s college fund is during the original uncontested divorce. If college is not mentioned in the original agreement, then the Court will not see the issue as something it has jurisdiction over. Thus, it is important for parents to plan far ahead into the future, and ensure that they are on the same page with their plans.
If you are currently filing for an uncontested divorce then consult an attorney prior to filing papers. This is true even if you plan to handle the majority of the work yourself. Contact our San Diego family law lawyers today.