Now is the time of year when many children head off to college; or you may have children who are starting to look at colleges for the upcoming application process. Virginia law generally does not require parents to provide financial support or assistance for college tuition, room, board, books, etc. Child support in most cases ends upon graduation from high school.
Parents who are separated and/or divorced some times are in agreement as to whether they should provide financial help for college. However, even where parents may agree conceptually with what their responsibilities should be, they disagree about what should be put in writing.
Unless terms of paying for a child’s college expenses are in writing, the Courts cannot enforce any other agreements. Before you execute an agreement pertaining to your separation, divorce, property, support and custody, you should consider the following:
Do you want a firm, contractual obligation by which both parents will be held accountable? Do you want to contribute proportionate to incomes? Do you want it to be limited to a certain amount or be based on Virginia state tuition, room and board? Do you want the number of years limited? Do you want to require application for financial aid, student loans and/or scholarships? How do you want to handle the use of a Virginia Prepaid Education Plan? How do you want to use 529 plans and how do you want to handle ongoing contributions?
College may even seem like it is far off, but ti is not too early to consider whether you as parents will take any financial role.