A court may order support for postsecondary educational expenses in a Washington child support order. The court has discretion in determining if and for how long to order support. The court must base its determination on the consideration of certain factors, including the child’s age, the child’s needs, the parties’ expectations while they were together, the child’s abilities, what type of education the child is pursuing, and the parent’s education, standard of living and resources. The court should also consider how much support the parents’ would have provided if they stayed together. The court is not, however, limited to the stated factors. RCW 26.19.090.
A father recently challenged a court’s denial of his request for postsecondary educational expenses for his younger daughter. According to the appeals court’s unpublished opinion, the parties divorced in 2005. They have two children together, 21 and 19 years old. The child support order reserved the right to petition for postsecondary support as long as it was done before termination of support. Postsecondary educational support was not ordered for the older child, but the father petitioned for postsecondary educational support for the younger child before she graduated high school. The mother did not join in the petition, arguing she was providing postsecondary educational support for the older child without help from the father.
The commissioner denied the father’s petition, finding the mother had contributed most of the support while the daughters were children and continued to support the older daughter while she was in college. The father moved for revision.