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Photo of attorneys Nicholas A Jones and Alyssa L Hawkins

Do you have to pay for college expenses during divorce?

People do not often agree about much during divorces. However, divorce is probably the best time to agree about certain major future decisions with your coparent.

Setting everything up for your child’s future is part of the divorce process. Your agreement can usually be as simple as the law allows or as complex as your family needs. One thing you might be able to agree upon is your child’s college education.

Does Alabama law require divorced parents to pay for college?

As per a landmark Alabama Supreme Court decision, a divorce trial court is unlikely to order you or your coparent to pay college expenses as part of your child support agreement. This is partly because the legal obligation you have to care for your children ends when they are no longer children.

Of course, this case law simply limits the power of the trial court. Most parents care for their children far beyond their legal obligations to do so — and you are undoubtedly no exception. You want them to succeed later in life, and planning for college could be a major part of that.

How do you set up a college payment plan during divorce?

The solution is typically negotiating a payment plan as part of your divorce agreement. Depending on the level of contention in your divorce, whether you will be the custodial parent, your opinions on education and a number of other factors, this could be a major dispute.

To make things more complicated, there is no right way to do this. You will probably have an almost unlimited amount of financial and legal options to structure the support.

As a final note, post-majority education is not mandatory. However, you and your coparent probably both have a strong child-support obligation regarding education up to the age of majority. These two issues might seem similar, but, from a legal standpoint, they are very different.

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