I am a divorce lawyer in Oakland County, Michigan. I recently met with a woman from Rochester Hills, Michigan who was contemplating a divorce from her husband. One question she had was whether a court would order her husband to pay for their child's college education because he previously promised that he would pay for her education.
Generally, the power of a divorce court is limited to determining the spouse's rights and obligations to the exclusion of third parties. This typically means that the court will not enforce a promise from a parent to a child such as a promise to pay for college or purchase the child a car. However, if the person agrees to it in a consent judgment of divorce, then the court will order the person to make the payments and it is binding. Therefore, if one is interested in including a clause such as that in the divorce judgment, then it will require negotiation to have it included. However, there are many pitfalls to making a legal agreement to be bound to pay for college in the future and many attorneys are against advising clients to commit to a binding legal agreement to do so.
Another way to address the issue, which may help depending on the ages of the children, would be to be agree to a monthly payment into a college fund that could be modified if it became a financial hardship on one of the parties to continue to make the payments. There are many other possible ways that we can take to help work out a solution that will work for the parties and the children even if the other spouse will not commit to pay for the child's education.