Divorce and Your Children’s College Education

Parents naturally focus on their children’s futures; a big part of this is their ongoing education, including college. As the cost of a college education continues to rise, it’s important to carefully consider how you will help your children continue their educations after they complete high school. If you are going through a divorce, however, it is easy to lose sight of something that may seem like a distant concern – especially if your children are very young. Don’t let the chaos of divorce cause you to ignore this important issue. If you are concerned about financing your children’s college educations, consult with an experienced Houston family law attorney today.

The Court and Your Children’s Education

When it comes to divorce, the court takes the stance that – except in extreme circumstances – both parents have specific rights and responsibilities regarding the children:

  • The right and responsibility to financially support one’s children.
  • The right and responsibility to provide an education for one’s children.
  • The right and responsibility to direct the moral and religious training of one’s children.

As such, educating your children remains your and their other parent’s right and responsibility. While the court will always rule in favor of what it determines to be in the children’s best interests, it generally doesn’t extend the parents’ rights and responsibilities beyond the child reaching 18 or graduating from high school (whichever comes later). In other words, the court generally won’t judge who is responsible for paying for your children’s college tuition.

Is a College Degree Worth the Expense?

The cost of college is rising, leaving some wondering whether a college education is worth the immense expense. Even though college students pay more for their educations and earn less upon graduation, a college degree remains an important asset, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The wages for Americans without college degrees have recently declined, keeping the wage premium of having a college degree at nearly an all-time high.

While this is a somewhat grim way to weigh the value of a college education, it’s important to consider less tangible metrics. A college education allows students to follow their interests, become critical thinkers, take pride in their perseverance, enrich their lives, pursue professional careers, and much more. It is difficult to overestimate the value of a college education.

Is a College Degree in Your Children’s Best Interests?

Regardless of statistics and prevailing numbers, few would disagree that a college degree is nearly always beneficial and never detrimental. While the court is unlikely to weigh in on financing your children’s educations after high school, this does not mean you aren’t allowed to address the issue in your divorce. Most parents agree that they want their children to pursue a college education.

No matter how contentious your divorce, you and your soon-to-be ex may see eye to eye on college. While determining how to divide your marital assets may be fraught with turmoil, you are much more likely to reach an agreement about supporting your children through their college years. If you can come to an agreement with your spouse regarding taking responsibility for your children’s college educations, the court is very likely to include the agreed-upon terms in your divorce decree.

The Cost of College

The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) shares significant statistics related to the rising cost of a college education:

  • From 2005 to 2016, the cost of a public college education rose by 34 percent.
  • The cost of a college education at a private nonprofit college rose by 26 percent from 2005 to 2016.

The cost of educating your children beyond high school is on the rise, and considering this during your divorce can help ensure your ability to provide your children with a higher education.

The Danger of Relying Upon a Verbal Agreement

Coming to a verbal agreement with your spouse about making future contributions to your children’s higher education may help assuage your concerns about the matter. Still, it’s important to recognize that such an agreement is not enforceable by the court. As time passes, you and your ex’s lives will evolve differently. If your ex goes on to start a second family, for instance, it could affect his or her financial commitment to your shared children’s college educations.

If you can get terms related to financing your children’s future college educations written into your divorce decree, those terms are much more likely to come to fruition. The fact is that such terms are legally enforceable, and if your ex chooses to renege when college rolls around, you will have legal recourse. Your children’s education is far too consequential to leave to chance or a verbal agreement. Work closely with an experienced Houston family law attorney to help ensure that your ex fulfills his or her educational responsibilities as they relate to supporting your children throughout their tenure as college students.

Share Your Concerns about Financing Your Children’s College Education with an Experienced Houston Family Law Attorney Today

You want what’s best for your children – now and into the future. A major component of this is their pursuit of higher education. While divorce has a way of usurping all of your attention, don’t allow the turmoil of your divorce to distract you from this important detail.

The dedicated family law attorneys at the Rudisel Law Firm, P.C. in Houston are committed to helping you pave the way for your children’s brightest futures with a divorce decree that works for you. Our experienced legal team is here to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 713-781-7775 to schedule a free consultation today.