Will a Court Order You to Contribute?
Your marriage is irreparably broken and the best way forward is through divorce. You have minor children and, like any parent, you want them to have every opportunity you can provide, including access to a college education. Who has the responsibility to pay for a child’s college education when a marriage terminates in divorce? Can the court force you to make contributions to a college education fund or compel you to pay a portion of your child’s tuition or other educational expenses?
Does Texas Law Require both Parents to Pay for or Set Aside Money for a Child’s College Education?
Currently, there is no law in Texas that mandates that parents must provide a college education to a child or pay any educational expenses once a child graduates from high school. You can, however, enter into either an informal or a formal agreement to do that.
With a formal agreement, you’ll typically work out the details (with the assistance of your lawyer) and put the terms of the agreement in your divorce decree. It’s important that you understand that, should you choose to do that, the agreement will be binding and enforceable in a court of law. If you fail to honor your commitment, your spouse may ask the court to intervene, and you may be held in contempt of court for failing to abide by the terms of a court order.
An informal agreement generally won’t make it into a court order, but it could be enforceable as well. If you put the terms of the agreement in writing, it may take the form of a binding contract. If you fail to abide by its terms, your ex could file a breach of contract action, provided they can show that a valid and enforceable contract existed. A verbal agreement can be enforced, but poses obvious evidentiary problems.
What Is the Best Way to Plan for a Child’s College Education in a Divorce Proceeding?
The most important thing to consider when contemplating a college education plan is the extent to which you can afford it. In the immediate aftermath of a divorce, when your emotions are particularly fragile, you may be inclined to make promises that will be difficult to keep, as you want to show that you love your children. Work closely with your attorney when considering including some commitment to your child’s education in a divorce decree. Your lawyer can be objective and tell you when you’re trying to do more than is reasonable or feasible.
If you can agree to the payment or deposit of a flat sum into a college education fund, you’ll be better off, as you’ll be done with and won’t have to worry what will happen if your finances change. If that’s not realistic, consider making an additional contribution to every child support payment, with the commitment that the extra funds will go into a 529 account for your child’s education.
Contact the Knowledgeable Divorce and Family Law Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we understand the challenges you can face when your marriage is over. We offer a free initial consultation to every client. To schedule an appointment with a proven divorce and family lawyer, contact us by e-mail or 844-402-2992 call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.