Divorced parents who believe that a private school education will help their children achieve their highest potential may be interested in knowing how the courts might consider allocation of child support payments for this purpose. Child support that is targeted specifically as payment for private school tuition is usually ordered as a supplement to basic support. In California, basic child support is calculated in accordance with guidelines that have been established by the state.
When parents divorce, the non-custodial parent is almost always ordered to pay basic child support. A court might order the non-custodial parent to pay or contribute to tuition payments in the event that the parents had agreed while they were married to send the children to private school, the children have been attending private school for a period of time, and then the non-custodial parent raised objections to the decision only when asked to provide support for the continuation of the children’s education.
In other situations, the court may consider a variety of additional factors before making a decision. Parties who enjoyed an affluent lifestyle or who demonstrated high spending patterns prior to the dissolution of their marriages could be more likely to be ordered to pay child support for private school tuition than those who did not. If religion is an integral part of a family’s life, the Court might order the non-custodial parent to financially support the children’s private education at a religious school.
Raising a child is expensive, even without factoring in the added costs of alternatives to a public school education. However, in cases where a child has been attending private school and has built up friendships there, an attorney for a custodial parent might argue that not ordering additional support to cover those expenses would not be in the child’s best interests.