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Can child support last through college?

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2021 | Divorce

The college costs are one of the major concerns for parents in Herndon, and not without a good reason. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, parents paid between $18,383 and $47,419 for undergraduate education in the academic year of 2018-2019. The costs depend on whether the child attends a private or a public institution. However, the price is high no matter what. You can’t deal with those expenses on your own, but you don’t have to. Even though child support ends when your child becomes an adult, you can reach an agreement with your ex to help you with college costs.

Child support laws in Virginia

The law in Virginia clearly states that child support ends the day a child turns 18 years old. This means that once your child reaches that age, your ex won’t have the obligation of paying for their needs anymore. The only way the court can order the continuation of support for a child over 18 years old is if:

  • The child is a full-time high school student
  • The child is not self-supporting
  • The child still lives in the home of the parent who receives child support
  • The child has a disability that existed before reaching the age of 18 or 19

The court cannot force a parent to pay for their child’s college tuition because it is not an obligation under the law. However, there is a way in which you can ensure your ex contributes to college costs when the moment for college arrives.

A written agreement

Nowadays, most jobs require a college education for their professional positions, so you and your ex might agree that college is necessary for your child. In this case, you can sign a written agreement in the child support order or in a separate contract making both of you responsible for college costs. As it will be a written agreement, the court can enforce it when the time to pay comes. The agreement should be clear on its terms and on what is covered, as there are many things that you must pay for college besides tuition, such as books, tools and travel costs. You must be careful in how much you agree to pay. Your financial situation can change in the future, and you must not promise to pay for something that you might not be able to afford later on.

Doing what’s best for your child

You must keep in mind that another possible option would be for your child to get a scholarship or ask for student loans. However, scholarships are hard to get, and maybe you don’t want your child to have any debts. If this is the case, a written agreement could give you the peace of mind you need. With an agreement, you can make your ex help you with the expensive costs of college and ensure your child will get the education they need for their work goals.