Education is a basic necessity for any child to have the opportunity to reach their full potential. But the question of determining who should pay for a child’s private education can be a difficult one. For many parents, private education can be an attractive option, but the cost of such an education can be quite high.
While it may be reasonable for parents to expect some financial contribution from the other parent, is private education part of a child’s support? This can be a complex question that has many different answers depending on the particular situation. In this article, we will look at the various factors that are taken into account when deciding if private education should be part of a child’s support for families in California.
Child support is a form of financial assistance that is provided by one parent to the other in accordance with family law. The primary obligation of child support is to financially support the child. This includes providing basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. Child support can also be used to cover some educational expenses and other costs related to raising a child. In some cases, child support may also include supplemental items such as extracurricular activities or special needs.
The amount of child support is usually determined by state guidelines which are based on the income of both parents. The court may order either one or both parents to pay child support, depending on their respective incomes and abilities to provide for the child’s needs.
Generally, if the custodial parent wishes to send the child to a private school, they will have to provide additional funds or make a separate arrangement with the other parent to cover those costs. In some cases where both parents agree, private school tuition may be included in the original child support order or later added as part of a newly modified child support order. Private education is not considered a necessity so sending a child to a private school is an agreement between both parents and should not be assumed to be covered by a child support order unless specified explicitly and included in the calculations of the child support obligation.
Private school costs in California can vary greatly. Tuition costs range from a few thousand dollars to over twenty thousand dollars per year, depending on the type of private school and the area. At the time of this writing, the average cost of private school tuition in California is $16,088 a year. Given the potential costs, this expense must be discussed by the parents and if affordable, built into the child support calculations.
If the other parent does not want to pay for private school tuition, you have the right to seek legal counsel and find out if your request is reasonable and therefore worth pursuing. For example, perhaps you believe the other parent has the means to afford private school but refuses for whatever reason. You may need to bring a legal action to show why your child would benefit from it and that it is affordable given the income of the other parent. If the court agrees, then a new child support order will be issued with the new amount of child support. It only makes sense to pursue this if you are fairly confident that the other parent has the means to increase their monthly obligation to include this cost.
Family law can be complex, so it is important to understand your rights and what recourse you may have. If either party wishes to pursue court action, they may need to initiate a motion with the court. Depending on factors such as income, expenses, and other financial considerations, the court may grant your motion or deny it.
Private school tuition can be included in a marital settlement agreement in certain circumstances. A marital settlement agreement is an agreement formed with input from both parties in a divorce and can encompass a variety of factors including property distribution, custody plans, and spousal support. It can include though anything both parties feel needs to be spelled out such as who gets the pets or in this case, how private education will be funded and how each parent will be expected to contribute.
In the case of private education, perhaps the couple already have children enrolled in a private school. Agreeing to continue this has already been agreed to in principle so figuring out how it will be paid for going forward can be built into discussions and ultimately reflected in their final judgment of divorce.
Custody is an issue for unmarried couples with children and divorcing couples. If a couple has children together, setting up custody arrangements, including child support, upon ending their cohabitation relationship is necessary. Determining the amount of child support is dependent on how custody is arranged and the ability each parent has to contribute to the support of their child. If the couple agrees that private education is a goal they believe meets the child’s needs better than public education, then they can at least discuss including these costs in their calculations. Because separating ends up adding new costs to each party as incomes have to support two households, there may be some items that are no longer considered affordable or necessary. Unfortunately, sometimes the expense of private schooling exceeds what the parties can afford.
It is important to remember that if you are ordered to pay child support which was calculated based on including the cost for private school, then you must do so. If circumstances change, then you will need seek a modification of that order. For example, if your child decides to go to a highly rated public high school in your town or perhaps is expelled from their private school, the fact that the expense of private school tuition is no longer needed, you would want child support to be reduced accordingly. It would not make sense for the parent providing support to continue to pay the same amount if expenses are significantly reduced. Or perhaps, you have a significant change in income (loss of a job or large pay cut) which affects your ability to afford what your old income did, again, you will want to seek a modification to child support to reflect the new situation. You should not simply stop paying the amount you were ordered to do so. It is best to make these changes through proper legal means.
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In general, private education can be expensive, and it is important to remember that including it in a child support order is dependent on the agreement of the parents. Private education is not considered a necessary expense. But if the parties agree to it and it is included in their child support order, then it becomes legally required to be provided, in the sense that the money to do so is in the monthly support obligation. If you want to send your child to a private school but your co-parent does not agree, you cannot necessarily make them pay for it. Working with an attorney like Bradley Bayan, you may be able to negotiate with the other party and come up with a way to work it out. Contact the Law Offices of Bradley D. Bayan at (650) 364-3600 to schedule a free consultation.