Divorce and Private School

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Support on Monday, August 31, 2015.

You want public school for the children. She wants them in a private school. Can you be forced to pay for your child’s private school tuition in a divorce?

This is a topic which comes up around this time of the year as we get ready for the start of the new school semester. I’ve written about being forced to pay for college tuition before.

Last year a New Jersey judge ordered the divorced couple to pay $16,000 every year the 21-year-old is enrolled in classes. The judge relied on a landmark New Jersey Supreme Court case that ruled divorced parents may be responsible for providing for their child’s “necessary education.”

Florida law does not follow New Jersey’s “necessary education” concept. In Florida, a parent’s duty to pay an adult child’s college expenses is moral rather than legal.

But what about regular elementary and high school tuition? Often times the tuition is greater than college. In Florida, a private school obligation increases a parent’s total child support obligation.

Pursuant to Florida Statutes, a trial court cannot order a parent to contribute to private school expenses unless it first finds that:

(1) the parties have the ability to pay such expenses

(2) the expenses are in accordance with the customary standard of living of the parties, and

(3) attendance at private school is in the child’s best interest.

If parents are unable to reach an agreement with respect to the payment of tuition, a judge will review the evidence you present and make a decision. If this becomes necessary, the judge will review all of the financial aspects of the case, including each parent’s income, the history of paying certain expenses and the schools themselves.