Divorce agreement doesn’t say anything about college tuition.

Additional Information:

I got a divorce 8 years ago in New Hampshire and my ex-wife moved the children to Massachusetts 4 years ago. There is nothing in the divorce decree about having to pay for college.  I can only afford in state tuition. My ex wife refuses to have me involved in the college planning stages and every time I talk to my kids privately, I receive an email disputing what I have discussed. All the schools on their lists are either private or out of state, all of which are very expensive. Can she take me back to court and can a Massachusetts judge decide to make me pay for these expensive schools?

ANSWER:

This is a very difficult time when you want to encourage and help your children yet finances are, of course, an issue. It also seems as though you have 2 children going to college at the same time, which creates an even greater financial burden. A judge would look at the finances of the family – and since you clearly desire to help your children as much as you are able, a judge would take that into consideration. It would depend a lot on the ability of you and your ex-wife to pay for college educations, also while balancing the need for both of you to maintain your retirement accounts and ability for both of you to save for your futures. Parent loans, student loans and aid may all figure in to the plan. Since communication is clearly a very difficult issue you may want to consider mediation to deal with college planning. You certainly want to be involved in choices of schools and participate in the decision making process with your children. Mediation of the issue of college planning, choice of college and financial obligation would allow you and your ex-spouse the ability to communicate and come to mutually acceptable agreements on who to proceed. Whether either one of you really wants to get to the point to have a judge decide this issue is a big question. Mediation affords the two of you the ability to privately come to an agreement with the help of a neutral trained professional mediator. I hope this answer helps during this difficult time.

Greater Boston Post-Divorce Mediator and Attorney, Tracy Fischer provides fair and neutral post-divorce mediation services to divorced couples to assist with issues that were not addressed at the time of divorce.   She works with divorced couples and families in the Greater Boston area including the communities of:  Dedham, Dover, Needham, Newton, Sherborn, Watertown, and Wellesley.