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Michigan Family Law Blog

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

How Do I Get My Ex to Pay for Our Child's College Tuition?

Tuition and expenses for a college education can be significant. Many parents choose to pay college tuition for their children or contributed to the cost of college tuition and expenses. When parents divorce, the question of who pays for the child’s college education can become complicated. A Michigan child support lawyer can help explain the laws related to child support in Michigan and how to get an ex-partner to pay for college tuition.

When Does A Parent’s Child Support Obligation Terminate in Michigan?

In most cases, child support terminates upon the child reaching the age of majority (18th birthday) according to current Michigan child support laws. However, the statute provides that the court may order support for the child after the child reaches 18 years of age.

The court may order post-majority child support payments if the child regularly attends high school on a full-time basis with the expectation that the child will graduate high school. The child must also live full time with the custodial parent who is receiving the child support payments. Post-majority child support payments may only continue until the child graduates high school or reaches the age of 19½ years, whichever comes first.

Does Post-Majority Child Support Include College Tuition?

Nowhere in the child support statutes does the law refer to an obligation to pay post-high school education expenses. Therefore, parents cannot be ordered to pay college tuition by the court. However, parents may choose to bear some or all of the costs for their child’s college education.

Parents who desire to ensure that their ex-partner will help pay for college tuition should enter into a legal agreement as part of their divorce decree. If a parent enters into a legal agreement to pay for college, Michigan courts will typically enforce the agreement.

Negotiating an Agreement for College Tuition for Your Child

If you are negotiating an agreement for your ex to pay for or contribute to the cost of college tuition and/or expenses, it is best to include the agreement as one of the terms of your divorce decree. Because the agreement is considered child support, the agreement could be modified in the future for a substantial change in circumstances, but Michigan courts of typically upheld these agreements barring any legal issues or substantial changes.

When negotiating the agreement for college tuition, it is usually best to consider a variety of potential scenarios to make the agreement as detailed as possible. For example, do you want to limit the payment to an in-state college or any college? Do you want to include a condition that your child maintains a specific grade point average? The agreement may also include limitations upon the number of years and the amount a parent may pay regarding a college education. An agreement may also stipulate how the money may be used.

Being as specific as possible and including a variety of terms and conditions within the agreement typically benefits the partner paying money for college tuition.

Consult a Michigan Divorce Attorney About College Tuition Agreements

A Michigan divorce attorney can help you with disputes related to post-majority child support if your child is still in high school. If you are contemplating a divorce, an attorney can consult with Michigan divorce attorney Cameron C. Goulding to help you draft and negotiate a legally binding agreement that ensures your ex will help pay for your child’s college tuition.

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