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How do college expenses fit into a child support order?

Do you expect your children to be financially self-sufficient by the time they reach college age? If not, do you plan to help cover the costs? You and your former spouse might have discussed this issue once upon a time, but were those expenses included in your child support order?

If you didn't negotiate higher education expenses into your initial child support order, you could attempt to seek a modification to include them. To start the process, you need to file the appropriate motion in a Texas court. If the court has not yet entered an initial order, you and your soon-to-be former spouse might consider including these expenses.

If requested, how will the court decide if child support should include higher education expenses?

The court looks at several factors before including college expenses in a support order. At a minimum, the court considers the following:

  • Income and other assets of both parents
  • Marital standard of living
  • Available Scholarships and financial aid
  • The child's educational goals and academic performance

The court might consider other factors if relevant to the request. Unlike regular child support payments, the court could use wider discretion in determining an amount for college expenses.

What college expenses could a child support order cover?

Child support payments can cover basic living expenses, tuition and other fees, along with books and transportation. Obviously, depending on the child's school of choice, these expenses can add up quickly.

Is the non-custodial parent the only one responsible for paying these expenses?

No. If the court includes higher education expenses in a child support order, you and your former spouse could negotiate the total sum that each parent pays or ask the court to determine the amount before entering the final support order.

Need to modify your child support order to include expenses for higher education?

For some parents in Texas, divorce can affect their ability to pay higher education expenses for their children that the court included in the original order. For others, the desire to provide beyond one's legal responsibility prompts the desire for a modification.

If you believe that your child support should cover higher education costs, you might seek a modification in to cover these expenses fully or partially. An experienced family law attorney will be able to assist you in filing your request and negotiating the new terms.

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