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Do Post-Secondary Support Orders Include Transportation Costs?

Goldberg Jones Child Support, Divorce, Goldberg Jones Radio Leave a Comment

When a divorce involves children, child support often forms a significant part of the final orders. This also often includes post-secondary support. These help provide for a child’s continuing education. But what do they include?

Books, tuition, housing if applicable, all of those obvious expenses usually factors into post-secondary support orders. Within that, however, there exist gray areas. One frequently contested area is the issue of transportation costs. Who covers those? Are they educational expenses or do they fall outside of those boundaries?

Rick Jones, one of our founding partners, regularly appears on the Danny Bonaduce and Sarah Morning Show, where he tackles family law questions from listeners. This question, as it often does, came up on a recent episode.

Related Reading: Verifying Post-Secondary Support Payments

Listen to what he has to say below:

Caller: “I just recently divorced after a 30-year marriage. The divorce was finalized on June 6th of this year. I have custody of my 17-year-old daughter who is a Junior at the University of Washington this year. She’s been there since she was 14. She got into an early entrance program. There was an agreement that she could go to University at this age, by her mother, by myself, and by her, well before we were ever divorced.”

“The problem lies in that she was court-ordered to pay 71% of the associated educational costs for my daughter. We travel from Maple Vally all the way to the University of Washington in Seattle every day, which is 38 miles each way. It amounts to $2500-$2800 or so a year…”

“Basically my ex is saying that she’s not responsible for transporting my daughter to and from her education.”

Rick: “So she’s trying to limit it to just the tuition, books, etc?”

Caller: “Yeah, you got it.”

Rick: “The question is this, especially since you just were done in June, that means you’ve got final orders. You’ve got a child support order that’s going to speak to it. What does the child support order say?”

Caller: “It says she’s required to pay 71% of all educational expenses. It doesn’t clearly define whether or not transportation to and from is included.”

Rick: “Welcome to my world. It’s not clear, it’s not clear either way, it’s the gray area. What you can do is this. What you can say to her is, ‘I think it’s expenses.’ Then she’ll say back to you, ‘I don’t think it is included in the definition of expenses.’

“So the only way you’re going to find out and have it be enforceable is to go back to the court and have them give you clarification. Whether you want to do that or not, that’s up to you. But there’s no stock answer in the law books that says educational expenses include gas and wear on your car.”

Is it Worth the Cost?

Danny: “I’ll tell you this, Tony, and the second I’m done saying it, there’s a very good chance Rick Jones is going to punch me right in the head. I think you’ve got a winner. It’s costing you five dollars a gallon, she can pay three of it.”

Sarah: “Tony’s got to decide whether it’s worth paying the price of a lawyer and going to court to get $2800.”

Danny: “You’ve never been through a divorce. It’s always worth the money to take them back to court!”

Related ReadingWhen Can Child Support Continue Past 18?

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