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If you live in the state of Washington and are planning to divorce, you may be concerned about how the proceedings will affect your children, especially as time progresses.

One of the greatest desires of many parents is for their children to receive a college education. Nevertheless, the separation of incomes that often occurs with a divorce can make it difficult to ensure that your child receives a postsecondary education. Thus, if your spouse will be paying child support, you may wonder if he or she will automatically be responsible for your child's college-related expenses. Here are a few factors that affect your ex-spouse's obligations:

How old is your child?

More than likely, by the time your child starts college, he or she will no longer be eligible for child support payments. In Washington, once a child reaches the age of emancipation, your spouse is no longer required to pay child support. The age of emancipation in Washington is 18.

Is your ex-spouse required to pay for your child's college education as a separate obligation?

In general, there is no rule that requires a parent to be responsible for his or her child's college tuition. When it comes to post-secondary educational support, the state of Washington deems child support advisory but not mandatory. Still, this responsibility can be included in a divorce settlement and is sometimes ordered by the court.

Here are a few factors that the court considers when deciding whether or not to order an ex-spouse to pay the tuition for your child's postsecondary education:

  • Child's age
  • Child's aptitudes and aspirations
  • Parental expectations expressed when the parents were still together
  • Educational background of the parents
  • Type of support that would have been available if the parents remained married
  • Available financial resources, including financial aid and scholarships

Every family's financial situation is unique. If you are planning to divorce and have concerns about how your child's college tuition will be covered, seek legal counsel. Proper guidance can help ensure that you are presented with workable solutions that match your family's needs.