Many people are unaware of the concept of continuing child support beyond a child’s eighteenth birthday, graduation from high school, or otherwise requiring the parents to contribute to the child’s college education. While a court cannot order a married couple to pay for their children’s college education, in Washington they can order a divorced couple to do so.

It is important to consider the children’s post-secondary education needs well in advance of deadlines for college registration and tuition payments. Often post secondary support can be set based on a particular college’s tuition and/or the parents’ proportion of income. Provisions requiring proof of grades and tuition receipts may also be included in a Child Support Order. There are many ways to structure a parent’s contributions to post secondary education support and we can help you explore your options. Issues that frequently need to be addressed are the child’s contribution (if any), the amount of each parent’s contribution, effect of scholarships and grants, and the additional cost of private school or out of state tuition.

It is important to remember that you must make a formal court request for post-secondary education support before the underlying obligation of child support terminates. If you wait (even a day), the court loses jurisdiction and you lose your right to request it.