Do divorced parents have an obligation to pay for college tuition?

Parents may be eligible to receive assistance paying for their child’s college education if they develop a college support order during their divorce.

While many parents struggle with the emotional aspect of dissolving their marriage in Texas, many also worry about how they will financially support their children as they grow up and eventually go to college. Although the divorce process can be a stressful time, parents should keep in mind that they may be able to acquire assistance from their ex-spouse to pay for their children's college educations.

College support agreements may outline costs

According to Forbes, divorce courts typically recognize that it is in the best interests of the children for them to acquire a college education. However, in Texas, parents are only required to make child support payments to their former spouse until their children turn 18 or until they graduate from high school, states the Texas Family Code. To prevent one parent from becoming entirely responsible for the cost of their children's higher educations, divorcing parents can include a college support agreement in their final divorce decree.

Although determining the amount of child support a divorced parent is expected to pay for his or her children's college education may seem straightforward, divorcing parents should remember that the cost of attaining a college degree can be highly variable. When developing a college support agreement, parents should account for the cost of tuition, room and board, books, a monthly allowance and extracurricular activities.

Modifying a child support order in Texas

Unless a college support order was settled upon during the divorce process, parents have no legal obligation to pay for their children's college educations, states Forbes. However, parents who did not originally develop one of these orders during the divorce process can modify their existing child support agreement if certain circumstances are present.

According to the Attorney General of Texas, divorced parents are eligible to modify the terms of their child support agreement if it has been more than three years since the order was altered and the desired amount differs by either 20 percent or $100. Parents are also able to request a modification to their child support order if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the original support order was enacted. To modify the terms of a child support order, parents can either schedule a court hearing or go through the child support review process.

Seeking legal assistance

Parents in Texas who either want to include a college support agreement in their divorce settlement or who desire to alter the terms of their existing child support agreement may feel intimidated by the legal process. If you want to ensure the best interests of your children are protected through the creation of a viable child support order, consult with an attorney who can provide you with legal guidance.

Keywords: divorce, children, support