Divorce and planning for your child’s education

During divorce proceedings, the courts resolve certain matters pertaining to division of property and spousal support. If spouses have children together, the court must also decide child custody and child support. Child custody consists of physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is the location that the child resides or primarily resides. One or both parents may have physical custody. Legal custody involves having the legal rights and responsibilities to make major decisions for the child including, medical care, dental care, religious practice and education.

Child support may be directly determined by the type of child custody arrangement the court orders in a divorce case. Parents who have joint legal custody share the parental decisions about the care and control of their child. A court cannot order joint custody arrangements if both parents do not agree to it. On the other hand, if one parent has sole legal custody, then the custodial legal parent makes the decision concerning the care and control of their child. When there is a sole custodial arrangement, the noncustodial parent usually has the obligation to pay child support for the child.

Child support is the money that one parent pays to the other parent to support the financial and other needs of the child. Child support must be paid on a regularly scheduled basis. A child support order may require the noncustodial parent to solely pay for a minor child’s education or split the cost with the custodial parent.

While parents are responsible for their children until they reach the age of majority or upon legal emancipation, the noncustodial may still have a financial obligation after the child is no longer a minor. A child support order may require one or both parents to pay for the education of their child after high school graduation and reaching eighteen years of age. For a child attending school, the parent may be obligated to pay for postsecondary education.

Oregon law defines a child attending school as a child who:

  • Is unmarried;
  • Is 18 years old or older and under 21 years old;
  • Is making satisfactory academic progress at the school; and
  • Is taking a course load that is at least one-half the course load of the school’s requirement for full-time enrollment.

Once the child custody and child support order are in place, both parents can plan for the child’s education. The parent with the physical custody is likely to enroll the child in the designated public school for their address. If the legal parent decides to place their child in a private school with tuition, both parents may plan to find a school that is affordable for the paying parent or parents. For post-secondary education, such as a four-year college or university, vocational training, and technical training, one or both parents can set up a college fund or trust fund to pay for the education.

To learn more about child support, custody and divorce in Portland, Oregon, visit https://grmfamilylaw.com/.

To schedule a consultation with one of our family law attorneys in Oregon or SW Washington, call us now at 503.222.9116 or write us.

Andrew Newsom

Andrew Newsom

Andy is a partner at Gearing Rackner & McGrath. He has practiced family law exclusively since 2010 and is licensed to practice in Oregon. Andrew has high-level experience in all areas of family law. Although he is stimulated by trial advocacy, his first priority is to provide his clients with creative and efficient solutions without unneeded expense.

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