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Divorced Parents May Be Obligated To Pay Child’s College Tuition

(File photo)

(File photo)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - As is so often the case when discussing your beloved offspring, the question is: who pays?

The good news for the father of an aspiring Cornell University Law School student is that his daughter is good at arguing. The bad news, for him at least, is that her skill will cost him approximately $112,000. That’s because she claimed in court that he owed half of her post-college tuition and living expenses and because he’d signed a divorce decree agreeing to pay half, the court said he’d be held to it.

Along with the story of the high school 18-year-old suing her parents for tuition, many are asking: doesn’t your obligation to pay for your kid’s education end when they turn 18? The answer is: sometimes.

State laws differ and, in many, while child support obligations end when a child turns 18, that requirement is extended until the child graduates high school. And in 17 states plus the district of Columbia, divorced or non-custodial parents can be forced to pay their share of college expenses.

There is no law that requires parents to pay for their children to become lawyers (thank goodness) but parents may unwittingly take on that obligation when they sign divorce decrees – which are contracts – agreeing to pay support throughout all education levels.

Sounds like that dad needed a better lawyer.

Luckily, he now knows one.