Private School Tuition After Divorce

Laura E. Shapiro -

Colorado statutes require parents to share the cost of education and childcare following a divorce.

However, many parents still have questions and concerns when it comes to how to pay for their children’s private school tuition after divorce.

This is a common cause of disputes during divorce and custody cases in Denver. Both the Colorado Revised Statutes and case law address and clarify this issue. 

In general, you may have to pay a portion of your child’s tuition if they already attend a private school. However, we can help you get a better idea of how the court may view your specific case.

You can reach a member of the Shapiro Family Law team in Denver at 303-695-0200 today.

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What the Colorado Revised Statutes Say About Private School Tuition After Divorce

Under Colorado Revised Statute § 14-10-115, the state’s child support guidelines, it calls for parents to split “any expenses for attending any special or private elementary or secondary schools to meet the particular educational needs of the child” based on their adjusted gross income.

Educational expenses are just one type of expense listed in this section of the statutes, and they do not further define the meaning of “particular educational needs.”

Fortunately, Colorado case law addressed this question. We can now build a strong case for child support that includes tuition for a private elementary and secondary school in many cases.

Defining the “Particular Educational Needs” of the Child

The meaning of “particular educational needs” as described in Colorado law is a common cause of dispute during divorces.

A 1995 decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals makes it clear that this does not only apply to children with special needs or specific educational needs related to a learning disability.

Instead, it refers to the educational needs of all children.

Under this rule, the parents may be required to share the reasonable cost of a child’s education after divorce.

This includes tuition to the private elementary or secondary school they previously attended or a school that provides specific instruction they need.

The courts will divide the cost between the parents based on their adjusted gross income if they do not agree to do so before the case goes to court.

The Role of the Child’s Standard of Living Before the Divorce

In addition to meeting the child’s “particular educational needs,” the court will also consider the standard of living the child enjoyed before their parents’ separation.

If the child attended an elite private school — or there were plans for the child to attend a private secondary school — the court may require the parents to split the cost after their divorce.

A major reason courts require child support payments is to ensure children can maintain the quality of life they would have if their parents had not divorced.

If a private school education was a part of this quality of life, the court may obligate the parents to pay for it.

Continuity of Education Plays a Role

If your children already attend a private school and did so for several years before the dissolution of the marriage, it is very likely you will need to split the cost of tuition and other educational expenses, so they can continue to attend the same school.

While the court will weigh many factors when determining custody and child support, creating a stable environment for the children is often key. Keeping them in the same school, with the same friends and trusted adults, is a part of this.

The courts make an effort to prevent major changes in a child’s life unless necessary, and this includes any long-standing involvement in a private school.

Let Us Address Your Concerns About Private School Tuition After Divorce

Our attorneys can help you understand how the Colorado child support guidelines and case law regarding private school tuition after a divorce might apply in your case.

No matter if you need the support from the other parent to keep your children in a private elementary or secondary school or you worry you cannot afford to pay a portion of tuition in addition to your other financial obligations, we are here for you.

Our team can handle the most complex divorce and custody issues, explaining how state law and case law could affect the outcome of your case.

If you have concerns about affording your child’s private school tuition after a divorce — or if your former spouse wants to enroll your child in a new private school and demands you pay a portion — reach out to our team today. 

Talk to a Colorado Family Law Attorney Today

If you face divorce or a custody dispute in Denver or elsewhere in Colorado, the team from Shapiro Family Law is here for you. Our founding partner has more than 40 years of experience with complex family law cases.

Call us today at 303-695-0200 to discuss your concerns and learn more about how we can help.

Laura E. Shapiro

Laura Shapiro is an award-winning Family Law Attorney with 40+ years of experience. Laura practices Family Law exclusively with her primary focus being divorce and child custody matters.

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