One of the most contentious parts of divorce is child support. Although there are formulas to follow in determining each parent's financial responsibilities to the child, they do not account for every possible circumstance. One such factor is college tuition.
With your child enrolled in post-secondary schooling, you may wonder who is going to continue to pay for higher education. Knowing West Virginia law on the matter can help you determine the answer.
West Virginia child support laws
Under normal law, child support obligations end when your child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later. Certain circumstances can cause it to end earlier or later. Unfortunately, West Virginia is not one of the states that enforce payment of college tuition. Neither do the guidelines consider educational costs when calculating the child support amount.
Including college tuition
This does not mean that you cannot make college expenses a part of your divorce agreement. They qualify as a reason for deviation. You can negotiate the terms with both of your lawyers if you want to include tuition in child support or as a part of a separate fund. Outline the schedule and amount of payments, where the money will go (ex: to an account or directly to the school) and what the money will cover. The decisions must be mutual, however, for them to be enforceable.
In factoring in education, the court may consider other financial opportunities at your child's disposable, such as scholarships, grants and loans. Even your income may play a role. For these reasons, the details are best left in the hands of you and your ex if possible. Having your child present at the discussion may help you and your ex to focus on what is best for your son or daughter. If your ex is not cooperative, review your options. For example, your child may have to work to aid in paying for expenses. You may also wish to speak to an attorney to see if your circumstances warrant extended child support.