Does California child support include college tuition?

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2023 | Family Law

Child support exists to promote the well-being and financial stability of divorced children. It generally covers the amount needed to maintain their former standard of living when their parents were together.

Many positions and careers require a college education, but secondary education can be cost-prohibitive. As a result, parents often choose to financially aid their children in college. This is a choice that legal agreements may reflect.

Basics of child support

California courts determine child support based on specific guidelines. These guidelines take into account various factors, including each parent’s income, the amount of time the child spends with each parent and any existing child support orders for other children. The law intends for child support to cover essential expenses such as housing, food, clothing and medical care. It does not currently classify college as one of these.

College costs in child support agreements

According to the Education Data Initiative, the average yearly cost of tuition and fees, excluding room and board, at a public California institution is over $9,000. State child support laws do not include provisions for covering college tuition and fees. However, parents may reach an agreement to provide additional support for their children’s college educations and include it in the divorce settlement. Usually, it is not part of the formal child support agreement.

Child support duration

Child support usually ends when the child turns 18 years old or graduates from high school, whichever comes later. The exception is if the child becomes emancipated before 18, by getting married, joining the military or becoming self-supporting. However, if the divorce agreement includes a college stipulation, while the paying parent would no longer bear responsibility for child support, he or she would still be liable for any agreed-upon fees regardless of age, usually until the child graduates. This may include only tuition or room and board as well as other living costs.

Courts do not include college provisions in child support orders because they focus on the needs of children as minors. Parents who wish to prepare for their children’s future can legally do so through the divorce settlement.

RSS Feed

FindLaw Network