Typically, parents agree on the educational choices for their children, but when there is a separation or divorce, even the school the kids will attend can be challenged by one parent. If it’s a private school, the tuition can become a new battleground.
In most cases, California law sees tuition for private schools as a discretionary add-on expense, meaning a parent cannot be forced to cover the costs if that parent chooses not to pay. A family court judge will consider whether the non-custodial parent can afford the tuition. Also, if the custodial parent suddenly decides to enroll the child for the first time, this can raise red flags with the court.
If, however, there are special needs that require or strongly suggest a child would thrive in a different educational environment, the judge will also consider that. During especially stressful times, a child may cope in a very negative way due to the divorce and custody issues of which parent he or she wishes to live with. Cutting, drinking and even drug use can become the solution in an adolescent’s mind. For some parents, the only solution they can fathom is changing their school. Many times, the parents can and do split the tuition or a judge may decide to earmark a portion of the child support payments being paid, especially if there are extenuating circumstances.
If the child is facing unique challenges in school, such as being bullied, or other problems, this could open a conversation about whether a school is a good fit for the child. There could be any number of issues that one school cannot adequately address, such as learning disabilities or speech impediments. Clearly, this goes far deeper than simply wanting to place a child in private school for the prestige. Family court judges weigh these and other similar situations according to our child support attorneys.
If the private school isn’t a new suggestion by one parent, it is possible that private school expenses will be included in the child support calculations.It’s not unrealistic to want to ensure there’s no disruption in a child’s school days, so if they were enrolled prior to the divorce, odds are, they will remain enrolled and a judge may decide who pays what. Every situation is different, which is why a child support mediator or your attorney is the first phone call you should make.
There are countless studies that show the benefits of stability in a child’s life during stressful times, such as their parents going through a divorce. Often, school provides that important stability for them and they’re drawn to the familiar monotony. Knowing that, most parents should come together and figure out ways to ensure private school expenses are included in the child support payments. Remember, speaking with the children is always a wise move for a number of reasons, not least of all, it lets them know that their parents value their opinions and what they have to say. It’s also a good way to reinforce the divorce means the parents are no longer together but this has nothing to do with the way they feel about the kids.
For more information, speak to our child support lawyers.