Legal Professionals of Hirsch & Ehlenberger

Can child support from a Virginia divorce last through college?

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2021 | Divorce

Young adults usually depend on their parents to make college costs accessible. The cost of a single semester’s tuition is likely more than a young adult could earn at a part-time job. Parents help young students by contributing toward college costs or helping by co-signing student loans.

Everyone in the family usually chips in to help aspiring students get into and pay for college. Unfortunately, a parental divorce can disrupt the household to a point where it affects the child’s college prospects.

It can be hard enough to pay your bills when receiving child support, let alone to think about setting thousands of dollars a year aside for college tuition in the future. Can you depend on your ex to continue paying child support through college?

In Virginia, support doesn’t last through college

Custody and support orders are either the result of a litigated divorce or an agreement between spouses. Barring special agreements entered into by divorcing parents, the Virginia courts have to set terms that follow legal guidelines.

Most child support orders terminate when the child graduates from high school or turns 19. In cases where a child has significant special needs, the courts may order longer-lasting child support to help offset the expenses incurred by the parent providing care and support for the adult child.

If your child is college-bound, they likely don’t qualify for long-term support due to special needs. The courts will not usually order support through college even if one parent is unable to cover all of the expenses on their own.

You can factor college costs into your divorce strategy

When negotiating with your ex or deciding how aggressive to be when pursuing property, thinking about college expenses can help you keep perspective. You don’t just want the short-term benefit of winning a negotiation. You need enough support and assets to provide for your children.

Ideally, your income combined with support will allow you to set some money aside for college, and your ex will also contribute to those funds. If you can’t reach an agreement together, you may have to shoulder the burden of setting your children up for professional success.

It’s important to understand that even if you are not in a position to save while receiving child support that there will be many options available to your family for financing your child’s college education. Remembering college costs during negotiations can help remind you of your child’s future and keep your priorities straight during a contentious divorce.


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