Are You Sure You Want to go to Harvard?

Congratulations!  Your child has worked hard throughout high school and been accepted into their first choice college!  When they receive that acceptance letter, there are hugs to be given, phone calls to be made, joyous celebrations to be had and also costs to consider.  Unless your wonderful child was granted a full ride scholarship, those college costs are going to add up and if you’ve agreed to help pay for it and have been court ordered, you may want to know a few things about Post-Secondary Education Support.

What Washington Parents Need to Know About Postsecondary Education Support

In most child support scenarios, the order has the support ending on or around the child’s 18th birthday or when they graduate from high school, whichever occurs later. This is pretty standard since the child is now an adult, legally speaking. In Washington State, however, there are situations where some form of support may continue, though it will typically be modified and referred to as post secondary education support. When a child wants to continue their education past high school, the courts may rule that postsecondary education college support is appropriate.

What Does Postsecondary Education Support Cover?

When one party asks for postsecondary education support, the courts have quite a bit of leeway over what types of expenses qualify for support. In the past, courts have decided that support can be required for things like tuition, residence hall dues, copy costs, lobby fees, health insurance, room and board, books, and more.

Is Support Appropriate?

Unlike typical child support, postsecondary education support is not something that is awarded in every situation. When one party asks the court for this type of support, the court will first want to determine whether or not the adult child is still dependent on his or her parents. If the child relies on them for all normal living expenses, under RCW 26.19.090(2), the court will consider a number of other factors including the age of the child, their financial needs, the prospects and desires of the child seeking to continue their education, and more.

Another important consideration is what intention the parents had while they were a couple. If the parents had been planning on sending their child to college, trade school, or some other type of postsecondary education, then the court will also consider this.  

Responsibilities of the Child

Another way that this type of support is different than normal child support is that when awarded, certain responsibilities are placed upon the child. First, the child must enroll into some type of accredited postsecondary school, and they must be pursuing courses that are focused on achieving an education that will help them achieve their career goals. While enrolled, RCW 26.19.090(3) they must also maintain good academic standing as defined by the Institution. In addition to this, the statute requires both parents must be given access to all the academic records and grades.

Who Gets the Payments?

The Court will take into consideration a few factors when determining this.  If possible, they will have the payments go directly to the Educational Institution; however, if your child plans to continue residing with either yourself or your former spouse, the court may grant the payment be made to the residing parent.  In rare cases, the court may grant the support to be paid directly to your child.

Learn More About Postsecondary Educational Support

If you have a child who is getting to the age where they are starting to think about college or some other postsecondary education, now is the time to start considering postsecondary educational support. Whether you would like to seek support from the other parent, or you’re being asked to help pay for it, we can help. Bliss Law Group has experience working with the courts on these types of cases, and we can help you to get the results you’re looking for.

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Written by Bliss Law Group