San Jose child support payments are calculated to cover the general costs of raising a child. They are intended to pay for food, clothing, and daily living expenses. They are not intended to cover many types of expenses that don’t happen on a monthly basis, such as school enrollment fees and fees to participate in school-sponsored extracurricular activities.
Expenses related to the education of a child are referred to as discretionary additional support. Parents are encouraged to work out an agreement in their divorce that explains how these additional expenses will be handled. Often, parents agree to contribute in proportion to their incomes. For example, if the parent normally paying child support earns $75,000 per year and the custodial parent earns $25,000 per year, the higher earning parent would pay for 75% of the extra expenses.
Unfortunately, sometimes the parties do not agree to continue paying for private schooling, particularly when the realization that their split now means two sets of household expenses instead of one, and they feel private school can no longer be afforded. These economic realities are generally found to be persuasive with the Family Courts, and a solid showing that there is not enough money for private school can mean that the child(ren) will lose out. Studies have been done of the various statistical effects of divorce on the opportunities children have, and they are interesting to read, but ultimately they are just statistics. In your particular case, whether there is enough money to pay for private school and/or the extracurricular activities your child(ren) enjoyed before the divorce can be a conclusive factor.
Private school tuition falls under the discretionary additional support category. If both parents agree that private school is in the child’s best interests, there should be no problem adding language regarding responsibility for the expense to the divorce settlement. If the non-custodial parent doesn’t agree, the Judge will make the decision. He or she will consider factors such as whether the child was attending the school before the divorce, if the child has special needs that are better served at a private school, if the custodial parent has the income needed to pay for the tuition, and if there were any prior agreements between the parents on this issue.
As you’re thinking about the role of child support in helping to pay for a child’s K-12 education, keep in mind that California does not legally require divorced parents to help pay for a child’s college tuition. If post secondary education is important to you, you need to have language in your divorce agreement that specifies both you and your ex will help contribute to your child’s college tuition and/or living expenses. An experienced San Jose child support attorney can provide additional information regarding the best way to handle this issue.