Child Support Payments Florida Considers Necessary
One of the biggest concerns among clients dealing with child support issues is who will be responsible for the children’s college expenses. According to Florida law, absent a finding of physical or mental deficiency, there is no legal duty for a parent to support a child beyond the age of eighteen. Once this bomb is dropped, the standard comments to echo through the conference room are most often “But we agreed to send Billy and Jane to UM/UF/FSU/UCF/FIU!” or “My ex promised we would split the kids college expenses!”, followed by a string of expletives usually including a diagnosis of their spouse as a sociopath and/or a deadbeat parent. Unfortunately, if your former life partner won’t agree to go halfsies on your kid’s ticket out of working the fry line at Mickey D’s, you’re probably out of luck. Florida courts have held that a parent’s moral obligation to provide their child with a college education should not be interpreted by the court as a legal obligation; ie it does not fall within the purview of child support.
Don’t discount your child’s chance at changing the world without you having to take out a second mortgage just yet. Like any contract, parties can agree to almost anything in a Marital Settlement Agreement (note the almost). Therefore, once your ex provides his or her John Hancock on an agreement to finance college expenses, a contractual obligation is formed. Wait for it…. wait for it…. Yes, there is a caveat to this. Unlike child support, a party’s failure to follow through on this obligation will only be enforceable by civil proceedings (ie via a breach of contract claim). However, with the help of a knowledgeable family law attorney, this can be cured and the provision made enforceable by contempt in family court.