Which Parent Pays for College After a Divorce?

Which parent is responsible for school expenses? When should we determine how to handle college expenses? Lee Rosen, retired divorce attorney and founder of the Rosen Law Firm, shares what you need to know.


Who is going to pay for college? Transcript

Hi, I’m Lee Rosen. Who is going to pay for college? College is a big deal in North Carolina. The law is not incredibly specific when it comes to this, and college can be very expensive. Realistically, we’re not talking about just tuition. There are a host of other expenses related to college. There’s room and board, books, fees. There are all the related things that go on that are required to support a child, while they’re in college.

And so in most families, we’re dealing with a very significant budget item, and it ought to be resolved as part of this process. The child support laws don’t apply to college. Child support ends at the age of eighteen or graduation from high school; whichever is later. But never beyond the age of twenty, and that doesn’t cover college.

So if you’re going to negotiate over college, and you don’t have to, there’s no requirement that anybody pay for college in North Carolina. But if you’re going to negotiate over college, then do it now. Do it as part of this process. Do it when you’re negotiating property division, and alimony, and child custody and child support. This is the best time to get college dealt with, if you’re going to deal with it. Don’t expect this to be something you can deal with three, four, five, ten or fifteen years from now. If you’re in an agreeable mood and working together, this is the time to get this done.

If you’re coming up with a plan that involves investing money for college, invest it wisely. Get the advice of an expert. There are all sorts of financial plans and systems that you can use to take advantage of the tax laws, and to maximize your return on investment. So if you’re going to do some investing for college as part of this agreement, I would really encourage you to sit down with an expert and work those issues through. Don’t rely on your divorce lawyer for that, go to a financial expert.

And then finally, college is different. You know, we really go at one another when it comes to property division or alimony. I mean, I don’t want to frighten you and say it always gets ugly, because it doesn’t. But there’s a different attitude when it’s money for me. This is not money for husband or for wife; this is to take care of the children.

Put the children first. Make them a priority. Do what you need to do to protect them, to make sure they’re going to be cared for and educated. Work as hard as you can, together, to take care of the kids and to put them first.

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