Today, a struggling economy coupled with increased competition for jobs make getting a college education more crucial than ever. Many college students struggle to pay for their education, applying for grants and scholarships and taking out student loans. Provided they have the financial means, many parents are also willing to help their children pay for college as they understand the benefits and long-term payoffs.
When parents are divorced, however, empty promises made about which parent will pay for what can quickly escalate into an all out battle. One divorced mother, who was receiving child support from her ex-husband, recently won a lawsuit compelling her ex-husband to make good on a promise he made to help pay for his son’s college education.
The single mother, who divorced her ex-husband in 1993, received child support payments in the amount of $175 per week to help support her two children. Since the divorce, the father’s income rose from $29,000 per year to nearly $250,000 per year while the mother’s annual income topped out at $40,000. Upon graduating from high school, the couple’s eldest son decided to attend a private college at which point his father agreed via email to help repay student loans and provide for additional expenses.
The father chose not to keep his word and the mother sued him in family court. The court ruled in favor of the father asserting he was not responsible for any debts his college-aged son incurred while obtaining a higher education. The decision was appealed and overturned by the state’s Supreme Court who ruled in favor of the mother thereby compelling the father to repay the amount of the student loans.
Discussing the decision to overturn the lower court’s ruling, one justice remarked on her annoyance with the father as he did not provide any apparent reason for failing to live up to his promise. Rather it seems as though he chose to not pay for his son’s education out of spite for his ex-wife.
This case sets an interesting precedent regarding a parent’s responsibility and financial obligation to pay for a child’s college education that may lead to similar rulings in states like Tennessee.
Source: The Republic, “SC Supreme Court rules some divorced parents paying child support should also pay for college,” Mar. 7, 2012