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Can child support cover private school tuition?

The new school year is in full swing. If you and your partner are divorcing, you have more on your mind than just helping your child with their homework. You must create a custody and visitation schedule that works for you, your former spouse and your child. And you must contend with another often-contentious issue: Child support.

The cost of school supplies and other necessities add up quickly. If your child attends private school, you must also pay tuition fees. You may be wondering whether your child support agreement can include the cost of private-school tuition.

Know what child support can cover

Many people mistakenly believe that child support can cover only necessities such as food, clothing and medical care. In fact, these payments can cover a spectrum of expenses pertaining to childcare. Parents can use child support for extracurricular activities, toys, vacations and entertainment. In some cases, child support can also pay for private school.

Addressing private school in child support agreement

Parents who choose to send their children to private school can include provisions in their child support agreements regarding tuition. These provisions may stipulate that one parent provide full or partial tuition payments. A child support order could also cap the amount or percentage of tuition that a parent must contribute.

However, parents often disagree on how best to educate their children. One parent may prefer to send their children to public school. If you and your child's other parent cannot reach an agreement regarding child support, you may need to proceed to trial. In this case, you and your attorney must present your side to a judge, explaining why private school is or is not necessary. The judge will issue a child support decree, which may require one parent to provide payments for private-school tuition.

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