As a parent, you want nothing but the best for your child, and that includes providing them with a quality education. However, the cost of post-secondary education can be significant, especially if you are divorced or separated. In the state of Washington, parents may be required to continue to support their children financially through college or other post-secondary education. If you are a parent who is currently paying child support, you may be wondering if you are obligated to pay for your child's post-secondary education.
Payment of Post-Secondary Education Child Support in Washington State
In Washington State, parents may be required to provide support for their children's post-secondary education. This is because Washington law recognizes that a college education is necessary for many professions, and children should not be denied the opportunity to pursue higher education because of their parents' divorce or separation.
Under Washington law, parents may be required to continue paying child support until their child reaches the age of 18, or until they graduate from high school, whichever comes later. However, if the child decides to continue their education, parents may be required to continue to pay child support until the child reaches the age of 23, or until the child's degree is completed, whichever comes first. The Courts, though, have the ultimate discretion to do whatever they feel is reasonable and appropriate given your unique situation.
In determining the amount of child support to be paid, the court will consider a number of factors, including the child's financial need, the parent's ability to pay, and the cost of the education.
Petition for Modification of Child Support for Post-Secondary Education in Washington State
If you are currently paying child support in Washington State and your child is planning to attend college or another post-secondary institution, you may be wondering if you can modify your child support order. In many cases, it is possible to file a Petition for Modification of Child Support for post-secondary education.
In order to file a Petition for Modification of Child Support, you will need to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. This may include a change in the child's needs, such as the cost of attending college, or a change in the parent's financial situation, such as a job loss or a significant decrease in income. In many situations, Child Support Orders will “Reserve” the issue of post-secondary education ensuring that the parties can bring the issue of college costs without needing to prove the typically required post-secondary education.
In Washington State, the process of filing a Petition for Modification of Child Support is relatively straightforward. You will need to complete the necessary forms and file them with the court. You will also need to provide supporting documentation, such as proof of the child's enrollment in college and proof of the costs associated with their education. Or, if the child is still applying to colleges, you will need to provide evidence of their intent to apply, applications, or other similar documents.
Once your petition has been filed, the parties will often negotiate hoping to reach a settlement. If settlement is not reached, however, the case will eventually proceed to a trial where the parties will be given the opportunity to share their case with a judge who will make the ultimate decision. These trials can be risky as the Court has discretion to make decisions that fit their personal view of the case.
The payment of post-secondary education child support in Washington State can be a complex issue. If you are a parent who is currently paying child support and your child is planning to attend college or another post-secondary institution, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney. They can help you understand your rights and obligations and guide you through the process of filing a Petition for Modification of Child Support if necessary. Remember, providing your child with a quality education is important, but it is equally important to ensure that your rights are protected. Call the law offices of Magnuson Lowell, PS for a free case evaluation.