Tuesday Tip: Divorce & College

Updated: May 3, 2021

Planning for your child’s college education is challenging, doing so during or after divorce can feel nearly impossible. The common questions asked by parents are: Who is obligated to pay? How much do I have to pay?

In Connecticut, on the motion of a parent, courts are permitted to retain jurisdiction and order parents to financially support their children through post-secondary education, up to four academic years, or until the child’s 23rd birthday.

In determining an appropriate educational support order, the court will consider the following:

· Income, assets, and liabilities of each parent

· Child’s need for support and the child’s ability to earn income

· Whether the parents would have funded the child’s education if the family unit remained intact

· Availability for financial aid, loans, and grants

· Reasonableness of the higher education to be funded, considering the child’s academic record and child’s commitment to and preparedness for higher education

The court will allow parents to discuss, and agree upon, which college the child will attend. If the parents cannot agree, the court may enter an order as to which institution the child will attend.

It is important to note that post-secondary support orders can only be enforced if:

1. The child is enrolled at least half-time in an accredited higher education or vocational institution

2. The child remains in good academic standing

3. All academic records are made available to both parents during the term of the order

There are three steps to obtaining a secondary support order:

1. Try to work out a mutually agreeable plan with your ex-spouse

2. Hire an attorney to negotiate the terms of the post-secondary education support order

3. File motion with the court to enter a post-secondary educational support order

While I hope this Tuesday tip is helpful, working with an experienced family attorney is extremely beneficial in making sure your child's college goals are reached.

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