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Can I be Ordered to Pay for College Expenses?

It is not uncommon for many divorcing parents to come to an agreement in their Marital Dissolution Agreement or Settlement Agreement concerning college expenses for their minor children. Often this agreement involves the parents sharing responsibility for college expenses in some form or fashion. Because this type of arrangement has come to be very common, many parents often ask whether it is necessary or if a court can mandate a parent to pay for a child’s college expenses as a part of the final divorce decree or a child support order.

According to Georgia statutory law on this subject, there is no specific requirement that a parent must support his or her child beyond secondary school. See O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2 and O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15.In fact, in Georgia parents are not required to pay for a child’s college or post-secondary expenses, and a Georgia court cannot forcibly order a parent to pay for a child’s college expenses. See Coleman v. Coleman, 240 Ga. 417 (1977).

Although a court cannot order a parent to pay for college expenses, as mentioned above, parents are free to agree with each other to provide for their children’s college expenses in a Settlement Agreement. It should be noted however that once parents enter into a Settlement Agreement to undertake this task, the agreement to provide for their child’s college expenses becomes legally binding and enforceable by a court. McClain v. McClain, 235 Ga. 659 (1975)

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