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College Costs in a Rhode Island Divorce Proceeding

When negotiating a Marital Settlement Agreement the issue of College is sometimes raised.  More consistently than not, the mother will advocate for a clause that requires both parents to contribute an equal amount of money for college expenses to the minor child or children.  Less often it is the mother of the child or children more or less demanding that the father contribute a specific amount to the college education of each child.

It can be frustrating for the parties when one party won't let go of the college support issue and is trying to use it as a "deal breaker' or we simply have no settlement.

No doubt each party will make his or her choice, with or without the advice of counsel, but it is important for both mother and father to know that Rhode Island Domestic Relations law does not require a parent to pay for post-secondary school, including colleges, universities, trade schools, etc...

A good divorce lawyer will help you address this in the manner that is acceptable to you, without being brow beaten by something your spouse wants that couldn't be ordered even after a full divorce trial.

Strangely, this because a topic of contention on my blog.   Some commenting advocates criticized the law in some comments calling the law inconsistent with college application forms.  It is certainly understandable where the contradiction could be seen when the federal student aid financial form requires the incomes of both parents in order to determine an applicant's eligibility for student loans and possible grants.  Why is this?  Because there is an expectation by the federal government who may back the federal grants or student aid programs that BOTH parents will make a contribution toward the son or daughter's education.  In that light you can certainly understand how juxtapposed the federal system is with the Rhode Island state law.

Still others had a contrary point.  Not everyone goes to college and not everyone wants to go to college or would ever have the means to go to college even if both parents make the best contribution they could make.  In otherwords, why should Rhode Island law require either parent to pay for an expense that isn't necessary for survival.  The counter point also indicates that most applicants for college are 18 and immature.  They simply do not absorb the information, nor do they appreciate what they learn, especially if they aren't paying for the education.

It makes one wonder as to each parent's mindset.   Is college a right?  A privilege?  Or a necessity?

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.