Can I force my spouse to help pay for our child’s college costs?

Like most questions that come up in family law matters, the answer to this one is “it depends”. Generally speaking, in Oklahoma, there is no default rule that a parent is required to pay for some or all of a child’s college costs, and it’s very rare that a court will order such a thing to be done unless there’s a compelling reason to do so. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be worked into a divorce decree, though – it simply takes some negotiation skill on the part of the attorneys.

Anything that a divorcing couple agrees to do after their divorce is finalized can be incorporated into an enforceable court Order in the final divorce decree – including an agreement for the parents to either share the college costs or for one person to pay the bulk of them. If you want this to be part of your decree and your ex won’t agree to it, your attorney can ask the court to make a ruling on that issue at trial, as long as they file something specifically requesting it and they can make a legitimate argument as to why it needs to be part of the final decree. Things such as large income disparity, special needs of the child or children, and other factors may support a ruling that specifically addresses college costs. These factors are specific to each family and it is not an automatic given that the court will make a ruling in your favor if you are requesting that your ex be ordered to pay these costs.

If you would like to have one of our attorneys evaluate your situation, please call us at (405) 792-2400 to schedule a consultation.