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Who Pays for the Children’s College After a Divorce?

The question of college expenses comes up frequently in divorce, particularly in high-asset divorces where one or both parties have the resources needed to give their children an easier start in adulthood. If you’re getting divorced and you want to ensure your children have the financial support they need as they go through college, we’re here to help. Call Kirk Drennan Law at 205-803-3500 to discuss your options.

No Statewide Requirements

Alabama law regarding this topic has changed several times over the decades. In 1989, a judge in Bayliss v. Bayliss determined that a non-custodial parent was expected to help a non-minor child with college expenses. This was overturned in 2010, based on the fact that a person who has reached the age of majority is not entitled to further financial support.

This means that you can’t go into divorce expecting the judge to force your co-parent to pay for college expenses, regardless of how much money you or they have. This is something you’ll need to negotiate during your divorce.

Under Alabama law, you are expected to support your children before they have reached the age of majority, which is 19. While parents may choose to pay for their children’s tuition and fees, books, and living expenses while they’re in college, they generally cannot be required to do so.

However, it’s important to remember that Alabama law isn’t the only factor at play here. You’ll also need to look at the terms of your divorce agreement. While the law does not require you to pay your child’s college expenses, parents may agree to pay post-high school support to cover college-related expenses.

What If College Funding is a Priority for You?

We understand if your children’s college fund is a priority for you. Many parents don’t want their children to start off their adult lives with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, especially if the parents have more than enough money to cover it.

Like anything else in a divorce, this is something you and your attorney can negotiate with the other party. In any divorce, you have to decide what your priorities are and where you are willing to negotiate. If you are insistent on having your children’s college expenses paid for, think about where you have wiggle room.

Perhaps you’re willing to take less in alimony or decrease child support payments during their childhood years to contribute to their college funds. Maybe you’ll give up your shares in a family business or give up part of your share in the marital home.

It’s likely that your co-parent will also understand the importance of paying for your children’s college expenses, as long as they have your children’s best interests in mind. If this is the case, negotiating college expenses will be significantly easier than if your ex-spouse doesn’t care about how your kids will pay for post-secondary education.

It’s possible that you won’t have to give up anything under these circumstances, as your ex- spouse may realize that paying for your children’s college is something that directly benefits your children—not you.

The Best Interests of the Children

Everything you do in a divorce should be done with the best interests of the children in mind. Unfortunately, this sometimes means giving up assets and resources that would make your life much easier after divorce. Know what your limits are and what you are willing to give up—while you do want to take care of your children’s long-term needs, you’ll also need the funding and assets necessary for you to start a new life post-divorce.

If this is one of your top concerns during divorce, bring it up with your divorce attorney as soon as possible. By giving them a clear picture of your expenses, your ex-partner’s expenses and income, and your children’s college goals, they’ll be able to figure out how realistic your expectations are. If your ex-partner can reasonably pay for college, your attorney will help you understand what you may need to give up in order to get college expenses paid for or how you can negotiate a positive outcome.

Discuss Your Divorce with Kirk Drennan Law

Divorce can be difficult, but when you have Kirk Drennan Law beside you, you know that you have a strong advocate throughout the entire process. Schedule a consultation with our team now by calling us at 205-803-3500 or reaching out to us online.

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