Postsecondary Educational Child Support in Washington

by ECL Writer
How To Win Child Custody In Washington State

Postsecondary Educational Child Support in Washington – Education is the cornerstone of progress and personal development, offering individuals the tools they need to navigate a complex world and secure a prosperous future. In recognition of this, the state of Washington has implemented a groundbreaking initiative that underscores the importance of education for children of divorced or separated parents. Postsecondary Educational Child Support (PECS) in Washington aims to ensure that these children have equal access to higher education opportunities, regardless of their family circumstances.

In this guide, we will delve into the details of Washington’s pioneering approach to postsecondary educational child support. We will explore the motivations behind its establishment, its key provisions, and the impact it has had on the lives of countless young individuals striving to achieve their academic aspirations. By shedding light on this progressive program, we hope to foster a better understanding of the importance of educational support and its role in shaping the future of Washington’s youth.

Who Must Pay Postsecondary Support?

Post-secondary support can be incorporated into a settlement agreement or child support order with the consent of both parents. If not, the primary guardian or parent must request post-secondary help from the court. Before the kid turns 18 or before an existing child support order expires, the petition must be submitted. Additionally, while basic child support obligations must be calculated using a straightforward formula, courts have the discretion to award post-secondary support by taking into account a variety of individual case-by-case variables.

If the child “relies upon the parents for the reasonable necessities of life,” such as food, medical attention, and clothing, the court will first look into that. The court then considers:

  • the child’s age;
  • the plans the parents made for educating their child when the parents were still together;
  • the child’s own prospects, desires, aptitudes, and abilities (or disabilities);
  • whether the type of education sought is appropriate for the child or general situation;
  • the parents’ level of education, standard of living, and resources, and
  • the amount and type of financial support the child would have received had the parents remained together. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 26.19.090.)

Parents have also been held liable for expenses ranging from bed linens to graduate school tuition. Post-secondary support typically includes items like college or trade school tuition, rent, residence hall dues, health fees, insurance, books, and supply costs. Support for postsecondary education is split between the two parents based on their respective net incomes.

Regular Child Support Vs. Postsecondary Educational Support

Most people think of child support as the sum of money that divorcing parents pay to “support” their kids’ everyday expenses. When determining who will pay child support and how much will be paid, divorce courts in Washington State have a limited amount of discretion. Instead, if a child is still in high school (sometimes known as “secondary school”) after graduation, judges use an income-based formula to meet their basic needs until they are 18 or, if they are still in high school until they graduate. “Emancipation” is the term used to describe this passage into maturity. Simply put, child support is child support.

Rarely, parents could still be obliged to pay child support after their kids graduate from high school or otherwise achieve adults. For dependent special needs or disabled children, for example, courts may order ongoing support. However, tuition and fees for kids who just want to go to trade school, vocational school, or college can also be covered by post-secondary support. This kind of support is referred to as “adult support” and is especially known as “post-secondary educational support.”

Does The Child Have Any Responsibilities?

Post-secondary financial aid is subject to restrictions under Washington law. The youngster must actively pursue a course of study at a recognized institution that satisfies his or her career ambitions while upholding a high academic status. The institution’s definition of “good academic standing” is achieving a minimum GPA or successfully finishing a specified amount of credit hours. Additionally, the child must grant each parent full and equal access to their academic history and grades. If the child disobeys, support is immediately terminated.

Parents’ Responsibilities

Parents pay money to the school directly whenever possible. Providing the child is living independently, the court may order parents to make payments to the child if direct payment is not feasible. The non-custodial parent might have to support either the child or the parent if the child lives with them.

A parent cannot be made to pay after the child becomes 23 unless there are special circumstances (usually the child’s ongoing mental, physical, or emotional handicap).

Do You Still Have To Pay Child Support If The Child Goes To College In Washington State?

Child support obligations can vary depending on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances, but in general, the responsibility to pay child support may continue even if the child goes to college in Washington state.

In Washington state, child support obligations typically continue until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later. However, if the child enrolls in a post-secondary education program, such as college, child support may extend beyond these milestones.

Washington state law allows for child support to continue until the child turns 19 if they are attending an accredited high school program on a full-time basis, or until they complete their secondary education, including college or vocational programs, whichever occurs first. The court may also order a noncustodial parent to contribute to college expenses or post-secondary education costs.

It’s important to note that child support laws can be complex, and the specific details of your situation may influence the outcome. It is advisable to consult with a family law attorney or seek legal advice to understand the precise requirements and obligations regarding child support in your case.

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