Experts will tell you that just getting a child to 17 years of age will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in food, shelter and other basic necessities. However, the biggest expense is often yet to come. Four years of college education can cost as much as all of those prior expenses combined.
Families often have to plan for years to absorb the costs associated with higher education. A divorce will certainly change your financial circumstances, as the same income that used to support one combined family unit will now have to pay for the expenses in two separate households. It will be harder for you to save for college after your divorce.
Can you count on your ex to pay child support through those college years?
Child support in Virginia ends before college
The current rules for child support in Virginia require that a parent pays until their child turns 18 or graduate from high school. Of course, the average18-year-old headed off to college does not have the personal resources necessary to support themselves independently. They will still rely on their parents for most of their financial needs. A full-time college student will not be in a position to work a job full time in most cases without endangering how much they can focus on their studies.
You will typically not be able to convince the courts to extend child support payments through your child’s college years. Although you would struggle to convince the Virginia courts to impose an ongoing support order throughout college, you and your ex can still make arrangements to cover those college costs.
You can settle the college issue outside of court
Provided that the two of you recognize how important a college education would be for your child and you are able to agree on the details of how you will split those financial obligations, you can create your own property settlement or support arrangements during mediation or collaborative divorce negotiations. You can create a contract between the two of you splitting up those costs and committing a certain amount to a special savings account every month until your child turns 18.
Cooperating with your ex may help you create child support arrangements that actually work in the best interests of your children and what they need for the future.