Can The Divorce Court Make Me Pay For College?

As a divorce attorney in Portland, Oregon, we get a lot of questions about parent’s obligation for college expenses after a divorce. Can the court make me pay for college? Am I obligated to pay private school tuition? Will the court make my ex pay for private school tuition? There is a lot of misinformation out there, and this post is to explain simply a parent’s obligation for college expenses post divorce.

Children of married couples have no legal right to money for college.

Children of divorced couples have more rights. A child  of divorced parents who qualifies as a “child attending school” under ORS 107.108 has the right to receive support between the ages of 18 and 21.  Child support is calculated based on a formula based on factors laid out in ORS 20.275, which includes the educational needs of a child.  While the court can deviate upwards on the amount of child support ordered to include college expenses, the court has no authority to order that a parent pay for college as an obligation separate from child support.

Many divorcing parents negotiate deals where one party, or both, pay for college beyond the statutory obligation, however, parents are not required to do so. If funding for college is an issue important to you in your case, make sure to talk through with your lawyer what the court can order, and what is achievable only by agreement.

About Sean Stephens

By Sean Stephens Google + Sean Stephens is divorce and family law lawyer, and a founding member of Stephens & Margolin LLP He was born in Eugene, Oregon and is a fourth generation Oregonian. Sean Stephens attended the University of Oregon, and graduated in with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, with a minor in English Literature. His psychology studies emphasized early childhood development. You can find more about Sean Stephens at Stephens & Margolin LLP Follow him
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4 Responses to Can The Divorce Court Make Me Pay For College?

  1. William Aurich says:

    This is one of the most hypocritical double standards ever legislated in the state. The rationale that the children of divorced parents are at a disadvantage for college is rediculous and objectively unfounded. This should be reviewed by the American Civil Liberties Union. All this accomplishes is the pitting of what remains of families after divorce against each other further. This ignorant double standard does not exist in Washington State. We live in the West Virginy of the west coast.

  2. If parents are divorced and then the child can go to any college that they want without even consulting their divorced parents and they are both responsible for all the costs (tuition, room, board, books and sometimes a car) as per the courts decision.

  3. In Oklahoma Divorce Court, the judge does not have the legal authority to order one of the parents to pay for the child’s college tuition. However, the parties are free to negotiate such a stipulation outside of court and so long as the stipulation is included in the final divorce decree, the judge does have the legal authority to enforce it.

  4. …btw this is a great post in my opinion. Thank you for sharing.

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