It’s an interesting question: can a father be forced to pay private school tuition as part of the Final Order? It’s not uncommon to see an ex-wife insisting to the court that the father of the child ante up money to send the child to a private school. Of course, many fathers counter that a public school is just as capable of meeting the needs of the child as a private one.
So, who is right? What does the court typically say in cases like this? It turns out the courts have had a lot to say about this issue, and it’s not as cut and dry as you might think.
When it comes to increasing child support to include the costs of a private or parochial school, the biggest factor the court wants to consider is whether or not the school in question is necessary to meet the “particular educational needs” of the child.
Unless your child is exceedingly gifted in some area and needs a special enrichment program, or is disabled and requires special education assistance that still meets the “least restrictive environment” clause of IDEA, it’s probable that the court will not see the need to send your child to a pricey private school.
A parent requesting tuition assistance needs to be able to show concrete proof that the school in question meets the educational needs of the child in a way that the standard public school cannot. Obviously, if both parents are high wage earners, and the children have already been attending private school, that changes the calculus a bit and the court may wish to ensure continuity of schooling.
The court considers the educational needs of the child to be the most important consideration in a tuition assistance case. What the father thinks about the child going to private school in the first place or an unwillingness to pay the tuition is not important in the eyes of the court.
While the educational needs of the child are paramount, the court will also look at the financial realities of the situation. If a father is making $3500 a month gross income, the mother is making $2500 a month gross income, and a private school costs more than $10,000 annually for tuition, the court is going to consider the financial impact on the parties when it decides.
Private educational costs have to be within the financial means of the parents. It does no one any good to ruin a parent financially just to pay for a school program.
When it comes to private school tuition, the primary consideration is your child’s needs. A secondary consideration is your income and whether private school was part of your original divorce order.
Family Matters Law Group believes in fighting for fathers and their rights. If you’re a father being asked to take on bigger financial obligations to cover private school tuition, you need an attorney with specific experience representing men in divorce cases. Fathers in Henry, Clayton, or Fayette counties (as well as the greater Atlanta metro area) can contact Family Matters Law Group for a consultation. We’re ready to listen to your story and fight hard for you and your family