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Is there an obligation for a divorced parent to help a child pay for college?

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Divorce

In Ohio, the question of whether divorced parents have the legal obligation to contribute to their child’s college expenses is a topic of considerable debate and scrutiny. Divorce settlements do typically include provisions for child support.

However, the matter becomes more complex when it comes to financing higher education. No explicit law in Ohio requires divorced parents to pay for their child’s college education, but several court rulings have led to precedents. Courts do occasionally order parents to contribute to college expenses.

Child support laws

Ohio law mandates that parents provide financial support for their children until they reach the age of majority, which is typically 18. However, this obligation may extend beyond high school graduation if the child is attending college on a full-time basis. The court may order child support to continue until the child turns 21, with enrollment in an accredited educational institution.

Factors the court considers

When determining whether a divorced parent should contribute to their child’s college expenses, Ohio courts consider various factors. These include the financial resources of both parents, the child’s academic performance, the cost of tuition and other related expenses, as well as the child’s own efforts to secure financial aid or scholarships. In-state college tuition in Ohio per academic year costs an average of $16,487.

Out-of-court agreements

In many cases, divorced parents can avoid lengthy legal battles by negotiating an out-of-court agreement regarding college expenses. These agreements may outline each parent’s financial responsibilities, taking into account their respective incomes and assets.

Mediation or counseling

When disputes arise regarding college expenses, seeking mediation or counseling can be beneficial. Mediators can help facilitate constructive discussions between parents, ultimately reaching a mutually agreeable solution that prioritizes the child’s best interests.

Ohio courts usually address college expenses and divorced parents on a case-by-case basis. The state encourages parents to work together as amicably as possible to navigate this complex issue effectively.

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