The short answer is no; you cannot make an ex pay any form of child support after the child turns 18, including college tuition. However, if paying college tuition was part of the initial divorce settlement, your ex will have to keep up his side of the agreement and pay his share of college costs.
California Divorces Do Not Offer Provisions for College Tuition
In California, child support obligations end when a child turns 18, or when they finish high school or turn 19, whichever comes first. Even though it only seems fair that both parents pay for the child's tuition, there is no legal obligation to do so in California. If you included college costs in your divorce settlement, however, that plan would kick in once your child begins college.
Options for Planning for College Tuition
If you are getting divorced when your children are still young, it can be hard to plan ahead for the possibility of college, but a forward-thinking divorce attorney should bring this issue up when negotiating your marital settlement agreement. A couple of options for planning for college tuition include:
- Signing an agreement. Along with child support and spousal support agreements, you can also negotiate a college tuition agreement as part of your divorce settlement. The agreement should address a number of potential issues, including tuition limits, how and when payments will be made, what expenses will be covered, and more. This agreement will be enforceable by a court, just like other financial support agreements.
- Establishing a trust. At the time of the divorce, you could also set money aside in a trust or escrow account in the child's name for the express purpose of paying college tuition. With this option, there will be no need to enforce an agreement. The trustee on the account will simply pay the tuition when the time comes. A state-sponsored college savings plan can also be set up for this purpose.
If you are getting divorced and have children, planning for college tuition will be a vital part of your settlement agreement. At Nathan Law Offices, we will help you protect your children from an uncertain future. Contact our Marin County office to discuss your options with our experienced team today.