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Paying for private school education after divorce

In general, parents want their children to have the best opportunities in life. Many of them believe that this can only be achieved if their children attend private school. It might be difficult for parents in North Carolina to pay for a private education if they are divorced and have primary physical custody. However, it is possible to include the cost of private school into the calculation for child support.

When children primarily live with the custodial parent following a divorce or separation, the noncustodial parent is usually required to pay child support. In North Carolina, a set of guidelines takes several factors into account to determine how much the noncustodial parent pays, including number of children, income, child care costs, dental and medical insurance, and other special needs. Support for private school education expenses could be an additional factor.

Before approving support for private school tuition, the court considers whether the children attended the school during the marriage. If this is the case, the noncustodial parent usually has to continue helping pay for the education if they willingly paid for it before.

The court also considers if the parents discussed during their marriage whether or not the children would attend private school. In some cases, the children are infants during these discussions, but the parents divorce before the children are old enough to attend school. The courts are more likely not to order the noncustodial parent to pay for private school under these circumstances. Even when a formal agreement is made for support for private school, the court may not order it if the discussion about the matter prior to the agreement was only hypothetical.

Parents could talk to their lawyers about seeking child support modifications when the existing arrangements no longer fit their needs. This could happen if the children stop going to private school, the noncustodial parent's income changes, or the price of tuition increases or decreases.

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