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Postsecondary Education Expenses – 3 Considerations

Parents of high school students planning on heading to college or technical school after high school often spend part of their summer looking at colleges, or helping kids prepare for the SATs. Parents may also spend some of their time planning on (or worrying about) how they will pay for their children’s education. For a parent of a high school student not married to child’s other parent, there is also the consideration of how to share the cost of the child’s education with the other parent.

A parent may choose to ask that the court require the other parent to contribute to the child’s educational expenses. If the parent is considering doing so, he or she should do the following:

  1. Review RCW 26.19.090. This statute provides the things the court will consider when determining whether postsecondary support should be awarded. It is a good starting point for anyone considering requesting postsecondary support.
  2. Gather Information and Documentation. After your review of RCW 26.19.090 is complete, you should start to gather documents that could help you prove that your child is intending to and capable of attending an accredited school, and that the child is dependent on you and the other parent. You will also want to gather documentation and information relating to any of the factors discussed in RCW 26.19.090(1).
  3. Consider the Timing. If your child is not yet applied to any post-secondary school, it may be difficult for the court to determine the costs to be apportioned. It may be best to wait until your child has made a decision about what to do after high school. However, it is very important that you seek postsecondary support prior to the order of child support terminating. In most cases, child support ends when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later. You must file your action for postsecondary support prior to that event occuring.

It is generally in your best interest to discuss your likelihood of success in a postsecondary case with a qualified attorney prior to filing anything with the court. If you live in the Seattle area, and have any questions regarding family law, we would be happy to speak with you.