January 8th, 2024

Child-Centered Divorce Month Feature: Private School After Divorce: Who Pays?

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Author: Monica Garcia Harms

The primary focus during a divorce is maintaining stability for the children. Ensuring that a child continues to enjoy the familiarity rooted in his or her school community can be an important benefit.

Hopefully, divorcing parents can agree on whether or not their kids will remain in or attend private school and how those costs will be allocated. However, if they cannot agree, it is a component of child support (until age 18 in most cases), and therefore is a question that the court can decide for them.

The court considers the following factors:

  • The child’s educational history;
  • The child’s performance while in private school;
  • Family history of attending private or public school;
  • Any factor impacting the child’s best interest;
  • Perhaps most importantly, the parents’ ability to pay.

Even if the first four factors weigh heavily in favor of private school, the court will not likely order it if the divorcing parents don’t have the resources to pay for it. When there are resources, the court may decide that the expenses should be paid in proportion to the parents’ adjusted actual income.

By contrast, payment of college education expenses must be negotiated, and cannot be ordered by the court unless already agreed upon by the divorcing parties.