Under Washington law, courts may order postsecondary support for children in some circumstances, but as a recent case reminds us, it is not automatic. Parents must be sure they understand the child support order and follow any deadlines for filing the petition for postsecondary support. It is important that parents consult with their attorneys before the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. The child support order may require the parent to petition for postsecondary educational support before the child’s high school graduation.
In this case, the child support order stated that support would continue until each child reached the age of 18 or graduated from high school, whichever was later, but not after a child reached the age of 19, except as provided in the paragraph on postsecondary educational support. That paragraph provided that the right to petition for postsecondary support was reserved as long as it was exercised before the child turned 18.
The child had already turned 18 at the time the father filed for postsecondary educational support, but they were still in high school. The court dismissed the petition as untimely, and the father appealed.