The following is provided for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be comprehensive or to be interpreted as legal advice. It also shall not be interpreted in such a manner as to form an attorney-client relationship. For such advice, consult an experienced Family Law attorney.
High School And Earlier - Although they generally don't, Massachusetts courts can order parents to pay for private schools for a child(ren) prior to high school graduation. The most important factors that a court considers in making such an order include the financial position of the parties, history of attendance by the child at such schools and any special needs or disabilities of the child.
Post High School Education - The courts may also order parent(s) to pay for the post high school education of a child(ren). The general standard is the ability of the parent to pay. The courts will look at the assets (excluding retirement funds), income and expenses of the parties. In addition, the court will assess the needs, abilities and resources (including financial aid and funds set aside for educational purposes) of the child. In many cases, taking into account child support, the non-custodial parent will not be found to have much (if any) ability to pay toward the child's education. However, the courts may also order a parent to borrow or cosign for a loan.
This is an area of significant litigation. The current high costs of education can be very significant. Well drafted separation agreements may address these costs in a variety of different manners. Oftentimes, drafters of agreements avoid addressing this area altogether because it is difficult to forecast the future and the area can be very contentious. Since child related matters are subject to modification by the court, these expenses will often be revisited many years after the parties have gone their separate ways.