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Should you discuss college expenses in divorce mediation?

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2024 | Family Law |

Child support is an issue that divorce mediation often covers. Some parents want these talks to include college expenses.

There are pros and cons to such an approach.

Advantages and disadvantages

Washington has six four-year colleges that are public and more than 300 private schools, including career institutions. Of course, Washington students may not necessarily stay in state for their education. Parents who want to cover college expenses in child support discussions may have many reasons. These reasons include the following.

  • Establish a clear financial plan for their child’s college education
  • Minimize future conflicts
  • Encourage the other parent’s involvement in the child’s life for a longer term

On the other hand, many parents would rather not discuss college expenses during child support divorce mediation. The reasons vary, but the following can apply.

  • Undue financial burden on one party, particularly if the party has limited resources
  • Inequitable outcomes
  • Potential strain on the parent-child relationship
  • A preference to focus on immediate needs, such as health care, extracurricular activities and emotional support

Moreover, some parents argue that college expenses are distinct from child support. They want flexibility in separately addressing each parent’s financial capabilities and the child’s educational needs.

Legal considerations

Washington law does not require the inclusion of college expenses in child support divorce mediation talks. The parents and mediators have the discretion to negotiate terms that best suit their circumstances.

However, courts may intervene if parents fail to reach an agreement, considering factors such as each parent’s financial resources, the child’s academic achievements and the family’s overall circumstances.

Ultimately, the resolution hinges on balancing the interests of all parties while prioritizing the well-being and future opportunities of children.