When parents divorce, each parent has a duty to support their child financially, even though the parents are no longer married, or the child may not live with the parent on a full-time basis. The amount of child support depends on several factors. Pennsylvania has specific child support guidelines that determine the child support obligations of each parent.
Child support obligations may include extraordinary expenses in addition to the base support amount, including money for private school tuition. Our Pennsylvania child support lawyer discusses some of the factors a judge may use when deciding whether to order a parent to pay private school tuition.
Can a Judge Order a Parent in Pennsylvania to Pay Tuition for Private School?
The child support guidelines do not specifically state that a parent can be ordered to pay tuition for private school. However, the statute gives a judge the authority to deviate from the support guidelines for several reasons. For example, a judge may deviate from the child support guidelines if the child has unusual needs or medical expenses that are not covered by health insurance.
Judges may consider the ages of the children, the length of the marriage, and the standard of living of the family before the divorce when calculating the amount of child support. They may also consider any other relevant factor, including what is in the best interest of the child when deciding to deviate from the standard child support guidelines for Pennsylvania.
Factors Judges Use When Considering Adding Private School Tuition to Child Support Payments
In cases involving private school tuition, judges consider several factors when determining whether to order a parent to pay private school tuition. First, a judge may consider the standard of living of the child before the marriage ended. Was the child expected to attend private school based on the family’s financial status or was the child already enrolled in a private school before the divorce? The judge may also consider any decisions the parents made related to private school before the marriage failed.
Other factors a judge may consider is whether an older sibling attends or attended private school and whether the child’s peers attend private school. A lack of quality public schools in the area may also be used as a consideration by a judge.
A parent’s ability to pay private school tuition is also a factor. However, it is not the only factor a judge uses when ordering a parent to pay private school tuition. If an abundance of evidence demonstrates that the parents would likely have enrolled their child in a private school had they remain married and attending private school is in the best interest of the child, the judge may order a parent to pay a portion of the private school tuition.
However, if a custodial parent suddenly decides to enroll the child in a private school without a valid reason, the judge may not require the non-custodial parent to pay a portion of the tuition.
Contact a Pennsylvania Divorce Attorney for More Information About Child Support Laws
If you have questions about this child support issue or other issues related to child support, Contact our Pennsylvania child support lawyers today to discuss your situation.