Who Bears the College Expenses in a Florida Divorce?

Understand the legalities around who pays for college expenses in a Florida divorce and how parents can reach a mutual agreement.

Raising children costs a pretty penny, particularly when considering their educational needs from daycare through college. Parents usually agree on handling these expenses, bound by law to support their children until they turn 18. But college costs don’t fall into this bracket.

In Florida divorces, the question of who foots the college bill is vital. Interestingly, Florida law doesn’t obligate either parent to cover college expenses. As stated in Wagner v. Wagner, 885 So. 2d 488 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2004), the court can only enforce payment of college expenses if both parents have agreed to it in a marital settlement agreement. This means decisions about college expenses should come prior to finalizing the divorce, factored into the final Marital Settlement Agreement that covers all financial matters.

Allocating College Expenses Predicting future expenses and income is challenging when divorcing with young children. Questions of whether the child will even attend college arise.

So, what can you do?

You might limit costs to an in-state Florida university. While allocating a portion of your income to college expenses is an option, future income remains unpredictable, especially with possible new family members to support. Remember, if an agreement obligates your ex to contribute to college costs, no Florida court will force them if they can’t due to circumstances like unemployment.

529 College Savings Plan: A Solution?

A possible solution is a 529 College Savings Plan, a tax-deferred account for future education. However, the specifics of contributions, potential changes to beneficiaries, and penalties for cashing out the plan need detailing in the Divorce Settlement Agreement.

Remember, a well-drafted Divorce Settlement Agreement provides the best protection against future issues. It’s advisable to seek legal counsel in Florida for these intricate details. For instance, do education expenses cover only up to a Bachelor’s degree or more? Clarity now can prevent misunderstandings later.

Disagreements Over College Expenses

If parents fail to agree on college costs, a judge may decide. They will consider parents’ income, lifestyle prior to divorce, financial resources, child’s grades, and even the child’s desires.

As Florida law does not mandate parents to cover their child’s college education, the court-ordered child support excludes these expenses.

To Wrap It Up

Divorce is complex, and children often amplify this complexity. In Florida, parents must decide on college expenses as the state doesn’t require parents to cover them. It’s crucial to remember that while parents may divorce each other, they don’t divorce their child – the child’s interests should remain paramount.

The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.

Have more questions? Let us know by sending an email to: questions@legallotus.legal and we will do our best to develop content to provide you with direction and insight!

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