In a divorce case, child support refers to one parent’s financial obligation to another parent to pay for expenses related to childcare. This includes the child’s education. A child support order will vary according to the specific elements of the case and the needs of the child. A judge in San Diego, California can require one or both parents to pay for private school after a divorce.
Can Private School Tuition Be Included in Child Support?
Yes, private school tuition can be included in a child support order in California. The first route for parents is to agree on who will pay for a child’s private school tuition. The family courts always allow parents to create their own parenting plan in a divorce case before a judge intervenes. If you and your ex-partner can work together to create a parenting plan, you can include an agreement on how to pay for private school in your divorce settlement.
If you and your ex-spouse cannot achieve a divorce settlement, the matter will go before a judge in the family courts. A judge has the authority to order one parent – or both parents – to pay for private school. However, the parents will need to demonstrate why the child requires private school for this order. The most common scenario is the custodial parent proving why the noncustodial parent should be financially responsible for private school tuition.
When determining which parent – if any – should pay for private school after a divorce in San Diego, a judge will look at the child’s specific educational needs, both parents’ incomes and any previous agreements involving the child’s education. If the custodial parent can show that private school is necessary for the child, it may become the noncustodial parent’s responsibility to pay for tuition if he or she can afford this cost.
If I Can’t Afford Private School Tuition, What Options Are Available?
If your ex-partner successfully proves that your child needs to attend private school, but you cannot afford private school tuition as the noncustodial parent, the courts may not make this part of your child support obligation. The courts in San Diego cannot order a parent to pay for private school if he or she cannot afford it on his or her current income. The courts may order you and your ex-spouse to split the expense, your spouse to pay 100 percent of the tuition costs, or neither parent to pay for private school.
Even if your child attended private school while you were married, if you and your ex-spouse cannot continue to afford a private education after your divorce, your family may have to adjust to new living standards. Your child may have to adjust to attending a public or charter school instead of a private institution after the divorce.
Although judges generally wish to maintain the same standard of living enjoyed by the child prior to the divorce, if this is not economically possible, a judge may rule differently. A judge in California may not force one parent to pay for private school if he or she cannot reasonably afford this expense.
What If Your Spouse Stops Paying a Child Support Order?
If your divorce settlement agreement or judgment decree orders your ex-spouse to pay a certain amount for private school tuition in his or her child support obligation, it is illegal for him or her to refuse to pay. The only time this is allowed is if your spouse experienced a significant change in income and received the court’s permission for a change in the support order.
If your ex suddenly stops paying for your child’s private school tuition, take legal action. Go to the courts that granted your initial divorce decree for a review. The courts can force your ex to pay the amount he or she is obligated to pay by court order. If your spouse still refuses to pay, he or she could be held in contempt of court, meaning penalties such as fines or even jail time. The courts can also take the amount owed through wage garnishment.
If you need assistance with a divorce case involving private school tuition, contact a divorce attorney who serves San Diego County right away for a free consultation.