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How Can I Get the Costs of Private School Included in Child Support Payments?

Private school tuition can represent a substantial expense in your life. When you decided to send your child or children to private school, you may have had a two-income family. You may have assumed that you and your spouse would work together to ensure that your child could continue to attend that school.

Then divorce happened. 

Now, you need to determine how you will handle those expenses, including the cost of your child’s private school tuition. How can you ensure that you will receive the payments you need?

1. Discuss arrangements with your spouse.

As with any other element of child custody and child support, keep your child’s best interests in mind as you discuss how you will handle paying for private school tuition, especially if you know your child or children still have several years of school ahead. Make sure you consider:

Why did you decide to send your child to private school in the first place? For example, you and your spouse may have decided to send your child to private school due to poor schools in the area or because you wanted your child to have specific educational or religious advantages. If you agreed on that decision in the first place, you may also agree on how you want to handle your child’s tuition moving forward.

Did both of you agree to send your child to private school? If only one parent wanted to send the child or children to private school, that parent may bear responsibility for managing tuition payments. 

How long has your child been at that private school? Divorce can be incredibly disruptive and distressing for your child. Choosing to remove your child from that private school can create a further level of trauma, since it  may separate your child from friends at a time when he needs them most. 

What does your child want to do? Does your child want to continue to attend private school, or has your child already expressed a wish to go to public school? You may want to carefully consider your child’s needs and desires as you make a decision about how you want to manage your child’s education moving forward. 

2. Consider how private school will impact your budget.

Can you and your former spouse afford to pay for private school? In some cases, one spouse can easily afford the cost of tuition, while the other might have a much greater struggle to make payments. If you cannot afford to pay for your child’s tuition even with your joint budget once you separate your households, you may need to consider making other educational arrangements. 

3. Include private school tuition as a line item in the child support requirements.

As you prepare to set up a child support arrangement with your former spouse, include private school tuition as one of the items. You may already have discussed how you want to handle other expenses, including the cost of medical appointments, which parent must provide medical insurance, and how you will handle paying for medical needs down the road. 

Private school tuition can appear in that arrangement just like anything else you want to make legal arrangements to pay for. By lining it out in your child support arrangement and requiring one spouse to pay for it, you can ensure that the arrangement will continue moving forward. 

4. Include other expenses that might be associated with your child’s attendance in a private school.

Sending your child to private school may mean much more than simply paying for private school tuition. As you work to divide the financial responsibilities that go along with parenting your child, make sure you consider other expenses that might go along with sending your child to private school. Make sure you include:

The cost of uniforms. Uniform cost can add up quickly, particularly if your child happens to be hard on uniforms or shoots up suddenly in the middle of the year. You may want to clearly lay out which parent has to pay for those costs. 

The cost of field trips and events. Many private schools include expensive field trips as part of their annual schedule. Take a look over your school’s calendar and make sure you are prepared for the cost associated with sending your child on those trips.

The cost of sports and activities. Many sports and clubs bring with them significant expenses, especially as your child gets older. As part of your child support arrangement, make sure you include the cost of those potential expenses. If your child is young now, you may not know what sports or activities your child will be involved in down the road–but you still need to prepare for how you and your former spouse will divide those costs. 

5. Prepare for your spouse to contest the private school tuition.

Did your spouse agree with sending your child to private school in the first place?

Will your spouse’s income change significantly, or will your spouse suffer financial distress, as a result of the divorce and continuing to pay for private school tuition?

If you need to go to court to receive a court-ordered child support arrangement, you may need to prove why your child needs to continue attending private school. Prepare to argue the case, whether that means discussing the fact that you made the decision to send your child to a private school together or your worry that removing your child from their school in the midst of the divorce will cause emotional trauma. You may also need to take a look at the impact private school tuition will have on your spouse’s budget now that you’re separated. 

You want what is best for your child, and that may mean including private school tuition as part of your child support. An attorney can help you learn more about how to include every important element in your child support plan and what to do if your spouse contests it. Contact Betsy A. Fischer, LLC today at 504-780-8232 to learn more.


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