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Should A Divorced Parent Help With College Expenses?


Question: Should A Divorced Parent Help With College Expenses?

Q.The judge ruled that I have to help pay part of my daughter’s college education. What gives a judge the right to tell me I have to spend even more money? I’m involved in my daughter’s life and very close to her but I wish someone would tell me why that means I have to be responsible for her college education? It isn’t right for a judge to intrude into my life like that.


The judge isn’t intruding into your life. When you are you wife divorced, the judge was invited into your life. That invitation into your life gave the judge the right rule according to your state’s divorce laws and evidently you live in a state that allows post majority support for college expenses.

Below are some interesting statistics from a 1992 study by the Department of Education:

  • Seventy Four percent of children from intact families go to college.

  • Fifty Four percent of children from divorced families go to college.

  • Lack of money was the main reason more children from divorced families didn’t attend college.

  • Intact families have a consistently higher income level than divorced families.

  • Only six percent of non-custodial parents volunteer to help with their child’s college education.

Clearly, judging from the information above children from divorced families face far greater financial obstacles when pursuing a college education. For some reason parents in an intact family are more likely to feel it is their moral obligation to help their child get a college education.

My ex husband felt morally obligated to help his children by paying for their college education. His father had paid his tuition and he wanted to do the same for his children. All that changed once we divorced and what he viewed as his moral obligation toward his children changed also.

That is why some state legislatures pass laws that require divorced parents to help with college expenses. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if a parent has a legal obligation to contribute to a child’s college expenses. There should be a moral obligation for both parents to share in the expense.

When we bring children into the world we are obligated to parent those children in a way that means they flourish and succeed in life. We are not obligated to the child as long as we are married to the child’s mother or father.

Divorce does not take away any moral obligation toward a child. Based on the fact that seventy four percent of college students parent’s feel it is their moral obligation to help their child I don’t feel it is unreasonable for all children to expect the same help.

You say you are close to your daughter and very involved in her life. If that is trued then you should not feel you have the right to pick and choose which area of her life you are involved with.

If she manages to go to college and graduate, will you be at her graduation ceremony? Will you feel pride at what she has accomplished? Think how much more pride you would feel if you had contributed and helped her accomplish her goal of obtaining a college degree.

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