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Who is Responsible for Paying the Cost of College?

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In the State of Pennsylvania, neither parent has a legal obligation to pay for their child’s education. If parents are divorcing, and college imminent, an attorney should counsel his/her client on college expenses. In some cases, it may be worthwhile for divorcing spouses to reach an agreement concerning college education in addition to a child support agreement. 

For example, a parent who agrees to contribute toward college costs, may also get the financially independent spouse to agree to mark some of the equitable distribution assets toward college expenses. In return, perhaps the financially independent spouse would agree to pay a longer period of alimony in exchange for the financially dependent spouse accepting less in equitable distribution.

An agreement to pay for college isn’t always beneficial. Signing an agreement could have detrimental consequences. For instance, if a child is still very young at the time of divorce, and you enter into an agreement, what if later-on your relationship with that child becomes estranged by the time he/she enters into high school? Even if you have had no contact with the child, you are still on the hook for the terms you agreed upon a decade before.

A college education will assist the child to become financially independent in the future. Most parents want their child to have opportunities -but providing opportunities to your child does not have to come at the cost of one parent.  In divorce, it is wise to discuss all options regarding college expenses with an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney who can assist you in making educated and informed decisions.

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