Tuition and divorce? - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 6 Old 02-06-2013, 06:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
mum2sarah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 501
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)

(I posted the following in the education forum, but it was suggested that maybe I'd find more answers here):

 

I'm hoping someone might have experience here that could help guide me.  My ex and his wife share custody of my two daughters with my husband and I.  We share custody equally so there is no "custodial" and "noncustodial parent."  We've been sending my daughters to a Montessori school and sharing the tuition costs 50/50.  My husband and I have a very different financial situation from my ex and his wife.  Our combined household income is less than $40k/yr, while just my ex alone makes six figures and his wife makes almost as much.  However, I've never complained about being overburdened by tuition costs, as to me, a good education is priceless.  We make sacrifices gladly and we make it work.

 

That said, my oldest daughter is in 5th grade.  My ex and his wife feel that they are done after this year with paying tuition.  We live in one of the "best" public school districts in our area, but we had a bad experience with the public school here when my oldest went there for her first few years of school before switching to Montessori.  Furthermore, DH is an alumnus of this school district and knows all its faults.  Yet my ex and his wife think it's best that DD1 go to the public middle school next year, transitioning with all the other incoming 6th graders, even though she could stay at her Montessori school another year (it goes through 6th grade).  They have reluctantly agreed to explore other options but they are not taking them very seriously, and have basically said that they wouldn't consider them unless she got a scholarship that would result in them paying significantly less than they are paying now (as close to zero as possible).  Their rationale is that they want to put that money they've been spending on tuition into a college fund.  While I appreciate that idea, I truly believe that having a superior education is a better investment in not only getting into college, but getting scholarship money and having the solid academic foundation to succeed in college.  They also have a fixation with her needing a "social life" and a "normal" middle school experience.  (But we're talking a huge HUGE middle school, when she's used to a class of 9 students--DH felt utterly lost there when he went to that middle school).

 

So here's where the problem lies: Almost all the private middle school options are much more costly than our Montessori school.  Based on my husband and my financial situation we should qualify for aid.  However when we go to SSS to apply for financial aid, I'm confused by the statement they make regarding divorced families.  They say that both families are expected to contribute as much as they can afford.  Well, how can they say that if both families aren't in agreement as to the necessity to go to private school??

 

Am I assuming too much that a judge would take public school as the default option and say that the family which doesn't want to pay private school tuition has no obligation to do so since they could send the child to public school for free? 

 

I just don't know what to expect out of financial aid offers from the schools we've applied to, because based on our income, we should get significant aid, but based on theirs, we'd probably get none.  SSS said our expected family contribution is zero.  But if they think each family should contribute what they can afford, they will likely say that my ex and his wife could "afford" full tuition at any of these schools.

 

Does that mean we'd get no aid?  Because if that's the case, it would be a deal-breaker since my ex would be unwilling to pay it, and there's no way DH and I could pick up the slack.  I'm pretty sure they'd reluctantly go along with a private school if they didn't have to pay much of anything, but if they were, heaven-forbid, asked to contribute the same percentage of their income that we've been paying, they'd push the public school on us.  And since they have the money, it seems they have the power to control this decision.  How is that fair?  Why should we be punished for their financial situation?  If he weren't in the picture at all, we'd presumably get significant aid and be happy to pay as much for tuition as we possibly could.  But with this policy SSS seems to be excluding divorced families who can't agree on prioritizing private schooling, and indirectly discriminating against low-income families.

 

Is there a work-around to this?  Has anyone been through something similar?


Sarah born 04/03/02dust.gif , Ashley born 03/13/04homebirth.jpg,  Rigel born 09/10/11 nocirc.gif

mum2sarah is offline  
#2 of 6 Old 02-07-2013, 01:34 PM
 
aricha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 1,166
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I think a lot might depend on the law in your state about child support, cost sharing, and if you have a "tie breaker" built in to your custody agreement if the two of you can't agree. In our state, the court would be likely to uphold the status quo (previous agreement) unless the parent who doesn't want to continue the status quo can give a compelling reason against it. If they can easily afford it and they aren't opposed to her going there, in my experience the court would be likely to require it continue. It's possible (in my state anyway) they would order your ex to pay a higher percentage of tuition because his income is higher.

 

So I'm talking about it from "what would happen if it went to court" because in our case that has been how we've solved it when my husband and his ex couldn't agree to something. For example, mom didn't want to pay for certain travel expenses, but we showed her that based on the state's rules about cost-sharing, she would most likely be required to pay it if it went to court. Likewise, when my husband objected to a certain medical procedure, his lawyer and hers convinced him that if it went to court they would likely find in mom's favor, so he thought it was better to work out a compromise. Because of that, we often look at what would happen if we don't agree and it was in the hands of a judge. 

 

I don't know if that was helpful at all... At least responding might bump it up and hopefully someone else will come along with more info?


Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
aricha is offline  
#3 of 6 Old 02-07-2013, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
mum2sarah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 501
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)

Thanks!  That is a helpful way to think about it!  I am in PA, so I'll try to google search what I can find for our state.  If it's similar to your state, it sounds like I could at the very least argue that she should stay at the Montessori school another year, based on the past 3 years' precedent.  I don't even care about him paying a higher percentage of tuition--I'm happy to keep paying what we're paying now if it meant she could get more education outside the public school.  Even if it just delayed the inevitable, it would at least give her another year to mature and decrease the number of years she'd have to spend in the public middle school.


Sarah born 04/03/02dust.gif , Ashley born 03/13/04homebirth.jpg,  Rigel born 09/10/11 nocirc.gif

mum2sarah is offline  
#4 of 6 Old 02-07-2013, 02:57 PM
 
aricha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 1,166
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Here are two articles from a case in PA that seem to set the precedent that if the parent agreed to private school in the past and voluntarily contributed to the cost, the court will likely require them to continue contributing to the cost. In this case the father actually says he disagreed with the decision to send the child there, but eventually gave in and paid for part of it for a year, thereby setting the precedent that he would contribute to the cost of private school. It seems like your case would be even stronger because dad actually agreed, and he's been paying for several years.  

 

http://www.familylawyerspittsburgh.com/private-school-tuition-murphy-mcdermott/

 

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/pa-superior-court/1064624.html

 

The fact that they might calculate it as part of child support, which may mean he owes a greater proportion, might sway him to agree to continue paying half rather than risk being required to pay a greater share.


Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
aricha is offline  
#5 of 6 Old 02-07-2013, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
mum2sarah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 501
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)

Thank you so much!  I was just stumbling across the first of those, too.  I think I will find a tactful way to convey that in the eyes of the court he'd likely be obligated to continue paying tuition for private schooling. 

 

The other thing is that I haven't asked for any increases in child support for many years, despite the fact that he's had multiple large raises in that time.  Currently we are each paying a little more than $400/month per child for tuition, and currently I receive $650/month in child support from him.  Running our finances through a quick online child support calculator, it looks like he really should be contributing almost three times that amount in child support.  So I might also mention that, by all rights, I could be asking for an increase in child support amounting to much more than the $400/month he spends in tuition.  In a sense, then, he's still making out on the deal if he just continues to contribute what he's been contributing for tuition and we don't argue for more child support at this point.

 

If I can put a positive win-win spin on this, maybe I'll be more successful.


Sarah born 04/03/02dust.gif , Ashley born 03/13/04homebirth.jpg,  Rigel born 09/10/11 nocirc.gif

mum2sarah is offline  
#6 of 6 Old 02-08-2013, 05:28 PM
 
Springshowers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 2,714
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 42 Post(s)
If he did contribute at the level he would be asked to with his current finances it sounds like you would have the money to keep her in private school!

Is that an option or would it cause to much conflict?
Springshowers is online now  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off