Does Child Support Cover Private School Tuition?
When Florida courts award child support, they take a number of financial and personal factors into account, including a child’s educational needs. In certain situations, a parent can even be required to help pay for a private school education, so if you want to enroll your child in private school and have questions about changing your child support order, please contact an experienced child support attorney who can help you seek a modification in court.
In 2002, a Florida District Court of Appeals directly dealt with the issue of child support and private school tuition, holding that judges are permitted to order a parent to help pay for private school tuition, but only if a series of factors have been met. According to the court’s opinion, judges will only order a parent to pay for private school tuition if:
- The parent has the ability and means to pay for private school;
- Attendance at a private school is in the child’s best interest; and
- The child’s attendance is within the family’s customary standard of living.
Proving that private school is in a child’s best interests usually requires evidence that the school provides a superior education, or that the children have already attended the school and have made friends with their classmates. Some courts have also taken into account whether the parties had previously agreed to provide a private school education for their children indefinitely or until they reached a certain age. Only when these factors are present will a court consider ordering a child’s parent to pay tuition for a private school.
Modifying a Child Support Order
Although many couples who are going through a divorce are able to come to an agreement regarding child support and tuition at the time of dissolution, this is not always the case. In fact, many parents do not decide to enroll their children until they are older or well past the time of the divorce. In these cases, the parties will need to seek a modification with the court and provide evidence of a substantial and ongoing change in circumstances. If approved, the court will need to recalculate the award by taking into account each party’s income, as well as recurring expenses, such as private school tuition, summer camp, or day care.
These costs will then be subtracted from the parents’ income, after which the court will recalculate the monthly support payment owed. The award will also need to be recalculated if a child support award initially included tuition for a private school, but the child has since been transferred to another school. The modification process can be difficult, so it is often in a family’s best interests to address education-related concerns during the initial dissolution proceeding.
Contact an Experienced Child Support Lawyer Today
If you are considering enrolling your child in private school and have questions about the repercussions on your child support order, please contact experienced and compassionate Fort Lauderdale child support attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 to discuss your legal options. We are happy to help you today.