Who Pays For A Child’s College In Case Of Divorce In Washington State?
By: Washington State Family Law Lawyer Dimitra Scott
High School graduation is on the horizon. Your child may have plans to attend college or vocational school in the fall. How (or who) is going to pay the expense? Courts in Washington state have the authority and discretion to determine whether the parents must pay.
If you have an Order of Child Support, the issue of post-secondary support may already be addressed. Depending upon the age of the child at the time the order was entered, the issue of post-secondary support may have been reserved for later determination provided the issue is addressed timely. Although all Orders of Child Support are not identical, most require a petition for court review of post-secondary issues before the child’s 18th birthday or graduation from high school, whichever occurs later. You must be careful to address this issue timely or risk waiving the opportunity to seek contribution toward post-secondary expenses.
A timely petition for post-secondary support preserves the opportunity to seek contribution toward the child’s post-secondary expenses. The Court will refer to the standards set forth in RCW 26.19.090 and in case law to make its ultimate determination for support. The child must be dependent and rely on the parents for the reasonable necessities of life. The Court will consider the child’s age, needs, desire, aptitude, and educational prospects. Whether the parents held a prior expectations regarding post-secondary education is a factor, as well as the level of the parent’s education, standard of living, and current & future resources.
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