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Do you have to pay college tuition after divorce?

Your child gets accepted into a prestigious Ivy League school. You are thrilled. It has been your dream for a long time. You value education and you want the very best for your child.

The problem is that you and your spouse are in the middle of a divorce. You waited until the child graduated from high school, trying to give them a stable home life, but you could not put it off any longer.

Now you have a difficult question: Who pays tuition? It is going to be expensive. You know it has always looked affordable for your family, as you are very well off, but is the divorce going to change that? Who is obligated to pay? What does the law say?

Generally speaking, the law says nothing about this. Your child is no longer a minor. You are not obligated to pay tuition and neither is your ex.

That said, you can get a court order that changes those obligations in some cases. If it orders one or the other of you to pay, you must follow it.

Overall, though, this is probably something you want to think about in the context of property division. If you had money set aside for college, do you need to divide it as a marital asset? If so, does your ex still plan to use it to pay for your child to go to school? Did you create a trust to hold the money so that it belongs to the trust, not to you? These are all important questions to ask, and every case is different.

As you move through this complex process, make sure you know your legal rights every step of the way.

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