In Ohio, a court will not order a parent to pay for college education of a child. Once a child has become emancipated, the court removes itself from these types of issues. However, parents can come to an agreement, during the divorce and in such agreement they may enter language that would cause one or both of them to be required to assist in paying, or pay in full, costs of the college education. With this agreement, the court then can enforce this, if a parent violates the terms. Often, if the husband is the higher earner, he may agree to enter into such an agreement, however with parameters in place. In this article, we will use the husband as the higher earner and the person who is reluctant to offer himself as an obligor for this expense (although we recognize that many times, wives are the higher earner and thus this scenario would flip).
If he agrees to pay for college, the question becomes WHICH college. There is a drastic difference in cost between the Ohio State University and Harvard College. A document that simply states that he will pay for college education could end up costing a fortune that was not expected. As a source of compromise (remember that a court would never ORDER him to pay for college) he may choose to limit his expense to a college tuition fee to not be in excess of the fee charged by the [ PICK A COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY]. This does not mean that the child will have to attend the college or university that is stated, it means only that the husband will not have to pay MORE than what the cost would be for the stated college or university. When considering entering into such an agreement, remember that the college tuition fee is not the only cost to consider. Putting language into the agreement that includes cost of books, room and board is essential as well.
If the payment of college education is a bone of contention in settling a divorce case, the husband may consider offering a deviated downward child support with a monthly payment into a college fund. In either scenario, the reality is that during a marriage, both husband and wife may be saving for college for the children. But, once the marriage is over, neither parent will be ordered to continue to save and then pay for college. Therefore, if college is a serious concern, compromise in the settlement documents may be the best bet.
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