Who Is Responsible For Private School Tuition After Maryland Divorce?
Getting divorced when children are involved can lead to complex questions about which parent will pay for what. For example, who will pay for private school tuition for the children after the divorce? The answer depends on several factors that are highlighted in this article. Our experienced Maryland divorce lawyers at Shah & Kishore can help if you need assistance with divorce and child support matters. We will advocate for a fair child support settlement and inform you of every development in your case.
How Maryland Courts Have Viewed Private School Tuition Payments
In a divorce and child support case, the laws of Maryland authorize the judge to order the parties to provide a proportionate share of their income to any expenses for their child to attend a private school to meet that child’s educational needs. Furthermore, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has stated that the child’s particular academic requirements do not just apply to times when the child has special needs; it also can apply to other cases where the child goes to a private school.
The Court of Special Appeals provided several factors for judges to consider when deciding this matter, including:
- A family tradition of attending a private school
- Whether the parents agreed during the marriage to send the child to a private school
- The educational history of the child
- The educational needs of the child
- The resources the school has
- Each parent’s income and ability to pay
- The academic performance of the child
A recent example of how judges can apply these items follows. In Sherbert v. Seymour, the parents of three sons filed for a Calvert County divorce. The parents resolved the financial and child custody disagreements, and a judge incorporated that settlement into the divorce decree several years ago.
After the divorce, the mother wanted one child to attend private school. The child previously went to public school, but the mother felt the child was falling behind in reading, and he was later diagnosed with dyslexia. The mother believed a private school concentrating on children with learning issues would be a superior learning environment.
However, the father did not support moving the child to a private school, but the mother was the primary decision-maker and enrolled the boy in the new school. The mother requested that the court modify the child support agreement and require the other parent to pay part of the private school tuition.
The judge declined to revise the father’s child support obligations to pay for part of the school’s tuition. The mother appealed the ruling, but the Court of Special Appeals agreed with the trial court.
When it examined the factors, the Court of Special Appeals stated that the child’s grades had improved in private school, but the family did not have a history of private education. Also, the mother decided to take the child out of public school after the divorce despite the father’s objections.
The trial court also stated that the parents’ combined income was insufficient to pay for tuition without financial aid. Last, the father stated that while the child had better school performance, his social life was impacted because he lacked classmates near his home and could not participate in sports.
Overall, the appellate court stated that the trial court acted appropriately and within its discretion when it did not order the father to help pay for the child’s private school tuition.
More About How Private School Tuition Is Paid After A Maryland Divorce
As the previous example highlights, private school tuition is typically costly, and there are often disagreements about who pays for it after the divorce. Who that will be depends on the factors in your case. In a perfect world, the parents would agree on the school and have limitless resources to pay for it, but that is not always how it works. The best thing to do in most Maryland divorces with private school tuition is to agree with your spouse on it.
In many cases, the court can order a parent to pay all or part of the child’s tuition; the Maryland standard in child-related decisions is in their best interests. Ideally, the parents will agree without the court’s involvement about the school the child will attend and how it is paid for. Sometimes, the child may be young enough that the parents may devise a written agreement on a process to decide which school their child will attend.
Whether through parental agreement or court decision, finances are often a significant factor in deciding how to pay tuition. How did you and your ex pay for tuition during the marriage? Are there sufficient funds between you today to pay for two homes and private school tuition. Will third parties, such as grandparents, contribute money to tuition? It is usually best in terms of cost and time to agree outside of court about how tuition will be paid for.
Child Support Guidelines in Maryland
Whether parents need to pay for private school tuition varies by case, but Maryland requires parents to support their children financially after divorce. Maryland courts use a formula to determine child support obligations, known as the Child Support Guidelines. The court typically orders child support according to these guidelines unless a party can show that the policies would result in an unfair result.
Generally, the parent with primary physical custody of the child receives child support. The parent who does have primary custody will usually pay child support. Factors that the court will consider to determine the child support obligation are:
- The actual monthly income of each parent
- The adjusted actual income of each parent
- Childcare expenses
- Health insurance expenses
- Extraordinary financial expenses
If the parents’ combined incomes are more than $30,000 per month, the court is not obligated to use the guidelines formula. Instead, it can set the child support payment based on the child’s needs.
Contact Our Maryland Divorce Lawyers Today
If you are going through a divorce and have disagreements about who should pay for your child’s tuition, you must have experienced legal counsel advising you. An experienced attorney can educate you about the law and review your options. Contact our Maryland divorce lawyers at Shah & Kishore. We are ready to help with your family law issues, so please schedule a consultation today at (301) 315-0001.