Support Through College, University, Or Vocational School In Washington State

Posted: Jan 30, 2019

By: Washington State Family Law Lawyer Dimitra S. Scott

Around this time every year, high school students begin preparing and sending out applications for admission to colleges, universities, or vocational schools.  For individuals with a Child Support Order, this is a critical time to review the order.

When your Order was entered, the Court may have assigned responsibility for payment of your child’s post-secondary educational expenses—tuition, room & board, books, health insurance, auto insurance, a student allowance, and other similar expenses.

However, in many cases, allocation of these college, university, and vocational school expenses are “reserved” for future determination.  If the issue was “reserved”, you must proceed timely or risk waiving the opportunity to seek ongoing support after high school graduation. While every Child Support Order differs, many require a petition for court review before the Order expires on the child’s 18th birthday or high school graduation (whichever occurs later). Preserving the potential for parental contributions to college, university or vocational expenses requires a timely petition to the Court.

The Court does not require parents to pay post-secondary support in every case—the decision is discretionary based on several factors, including those factors identified by RCW 26.19.100:

  • The child’s needs.
  • The expectations of the parties for their children when the parents were together.
  • The child’s prospects, desires, aptitudes, abilities or disabilities; the nature of the postsecondary education sought.
  • The parents’ level of education, standard of living, and current and future resources.
  • The amount and type of support the child would have been afforded had the parents stayed together.

In cases where a parental contribution to college, university, or vocation expenses are ordered, the benefited student is incentivized to actively pursue their educational goals in order to continue receiving support.  RCW 26.19.100 suspends the obligation to provide post-secondary support if a student is not enrolled in an accredited academic or vocational school, does not actively pursue a course of study, or fails to maintaining good academic standing. Further, each parent is empowered with access to the student’s educational records to validate the student’s performance.

If your child is set to graduate this year, it is important to review your Order of Child Support to determine whether post-secondary support was addressed and ensure you understand the court obligations imposed on the parents and student.  If post-secondary support was not specifically ordered, consider whether seeking support is right for your family.

Contact our family law attorneys for a consultation to explore whether a petition for post-secondary support is an option for funding your child’s college, university, or vocational expenses.

Beresford Booth PLLC (425.776.4100),

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