One of the issues divorcing parents must resolve during the divorce is college costs payments. With the growing college costs, it’s no wonder many parents want to know if the court can order a parent to contribute to a child’s college expenses.
If you’re a man in a similar predicament, take charge of the matter. Speak to fathers’ rights lawyers in Baltimore who can explain what you need to know.
What Does Maryland Child Support Law Stipulate?
In Maryland, there’s no obligation for parents to continue paying child support or college fees once the child reaches 18 years or has graduated from high school. If they’re still in school, the obligation ends once the child turns 19, according to Maryland law.
Additionally, courts in Maryland can only order a parent to pay their child’s college expenses if there’s an enforceable agreement between the parents on how to pay college fees. Parents can create this agreement during the divorce. Consult skilled child support lawyers in Baltimore if you and your ex-spouse are not amicable on how to share the responsibility.
They can mediate the agreement-making process to ensure your rights as a father are not violated, and your ex-spouse doesn’t take advantage of the situation to squeeze the last coin out of your pocket. Most importantly, having a lawyer by your side ensures that your child’s best interests are protected in determining child support and college costs.
What Should I Consider When Making an Agreement for College Payments?
Before agreeing to incorporate college fees into the parenting agreement, it’s crucial to factor everything included in the costs. Most college tuition expenses include:
- The tuition fees
- Boarding fees
- A food plan and general living expenses
- Medical expenses
- Transport expenses
Additionally, it helps to remember that the cost of tuition and related expenses may increase every year. That can make it impossible to arrive at a concrete figure of the total cost of college expenses, especially if the child is still too young for college.
Moreover, you can never be too sure where you will be financially a few years from now. While you may agree to pay for college now, you can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to maintain your current income level or expenses. Therefore, you should be sure that you want to lock yourself into such a payment agreement.
Reaching an Agreement with Your Ex-Spouse
If you decide to commit to paying college tuition for your child, ensure you have the money set aside and designated for that specific purpose. That’s especially the case if there are many years before the child can start college.
Otherwise, another option is to discuss the responsibility when the time comes to avoid agreeing to something you will not be able to fulfill, which could land you in trouble.
In creating the agreement, take note of the following clauses in Divorce Settlement Agreements:
- The exact expenses to be covered by both parents
- Your specific share of expenses
- The number of semesters of support you will provide
- If there are any conditions the child must meet for you to continue paying their college expenses
Creating a College Savings Plan
You can start saving for your child’s college costs as early as now. A college savings plan works similarly to a Roth IRA by investing after-tax contributions in mutual funds. You have a lot to choose from, and the account will increase or decrease in value depending on the performance of your investment options.
Can I Limit My Obligation to Pay for College?
Once a contractual agreement has been made for the child’s college education, it may not be subject to modification in the same way as a child support agreement. As such, once you decide to include college support in your Maryland divorce decree, you may want to keep the following in mind:
- The importance of having a minimum income level at the time the child attends college
- Consider the possibility of the child applying for financial aid before the parents are obligated to pay
- Whether to limit your obligation to pay college fees to four consecutive years of college
The list is non-exhaustive of the possibilities you should consider when planning your child’s future. That’s why it’s crucial to consult experienced child support attorneys in Baltimore for more legal counsel.
Will I Pay College Support to My Ex-Spouse or My Child?
If you are a non-custodial parent and agree to pay your child’s college fees, it’s natural to worry about who you should pay the support to, and for good reasons. If your divorce was not amicable, you might fear that if you send the payments to your spouse, they may not use it for the intended purpose, to get back at you for the divorce.
On the other hand, you may feel your child needs to be more responsible in handling the tuition money and may use it for the wrong purpose. In that case, you can send the college support directly to the college itself to be sure it ends up in the right place.
A Skilled and Passionate Attorney Helping You Protect Your Child’s Best Interests
Agreeing on who will handle your child’s college fees after a divorce can be complex and challenging, especially if the divorce is contested. It helps to consult skilled Baltimore child support attorneys for legal counsel in handling the issue. They can even help you create an enforceable college support agreement that considers your financial and future situation.
The Baltimore fathers’ rights attorneys at our firm understand that fathers have many questions about child support. We have the experience and knowledge of the law necessary to answer all your questions and help you make the most suitable decision. We have assisted several families in your situation and can help you too. Contact us to schedule a FREE case evaluation.