Sending children off to college is difficult for any parent to do, and even more so for divorced parents. Efforts that might normally be collaborative - like paying for tuition and books, helping pack supplies, and determining transportation - all become divided between households. These are all concerns that divorced parents should begin thinking about well in advance. Here are some things that all divorced parents should consider as they prepare for their kids to head off to college:
Post-secondary support, which basically means support for college expenses, is not included in normal divorce support orders. Most child support orders end when the child turns eighteen or when they graduate from high school, whichever comes last. Unless you included post-secondary support in a special provision in your divorce, you likely will have to work with an attorney to create a new order to address it.
There is a timing element to creating a post-secondary support order: you must ask for it before the current child support order ends. This means that the time to work it out is typically in your child’s junior or senior year of high school. Once they graduate high school and turn eighteen, you cannot go back to court to create a new post-secondary support order.
Determining the Amount
In Washington state, one parent can go to court and ask that the other parent receive an order to help pay college expenses. There is no set formula for determining how much each parent must pay, which makes it very different from regular child support. When determining child support, the court considers the financial ability of each parent, the child’s education and their access to scholarships, and what promises each parent has made about helping to pay for college. Using these factors, they will determine the support order.
Powers of Attorney
Another thing that parents can do to prepare for their children heading off to college is encourage them to write Powers of Attorney for Healthcare. We have written in the past about Powers of Attorney, which are legal documents allowing someone else to make medical or financial decisions for you if you are unable to. In the United States, HIPAA means that parents will have no say whatsoever in what happens to their children if they are of legal age and away at college. You can encourage your child to fill out a Power of Attorney for Healthcare form, allowing parents to help out in a time of need.
Get Started Today
At the Law Offices of Mackenzie Sorich, PLLC, we know that it is never easy to say goodbye to your children as they head off to college. Along with the emotional toll comes logistical questions that divorced parents need to figure out sooner rather than later. If you need help creating a post-secondary support order or a Power of Attorney for Healthcare, contact the Law Offices of Mackenzie Sorich, PLLC today! We have been where you are before, and we know how to help you through it efficiently and supportively.