Today more than ever higher education is increasingly viewed as a key component of a young person’s education. Furthermore, due to the high price tag that comes with attending college society generally expects parents to help pay for their children’s university tuition if they are financially able to do so. Consequently, many divorcing couples who have minor children now include a college tuition provision in their divorce settlement (aka “Judgment of Divorce”) in order to help ensure that there will be funds available to their children should they decide to attend college when they are grown. If you’re interested in learning more about college tuition provisions and their enforceability under Michigan law read through the frequently answered questions that have been answered below and then contact a local Michigan divorce attorney with any case specific questions that you may have.
Q: Are college tuition provisions valid and enforceable in Michigan?
A: Despite the fact that child support is intended to benefit minor children who have not yet reached the age of majority (which is 18 in Michigan), under Michigan’s current laws a provision contained in a Judgment of Divorce that provides financial support for a child after he/she reaches 18 years of age is valid and enforceable if the parties to the judgment agree to include such a provision in their divorce settlement. MCL 552.605b(4)(a). Therefore, a college tuition provision that is included in a Michigan Judgment of Divorce is valid as long as both parents agree to its inclusion.
Q: Are college tuition provisions modifiable under Michigan law?
A: When drafting a college tuition provision in Michigan it is a good idea to specify that any clause pertaining to payments for a child’s post-majority educational expenses is part of the couple’s negotiated property settlement and is not “child support”. This is important if you are trying to draft a college tuition provision that is not modifiable as child support can be modified in Michigan after a couple’s divorce is finalized while a negotiated property settlement can not.
Q: What do I need to include in my college tuition provision to ensure that it won’t be found unenforceable for being ambiguous?
A: While we cannot guarantee that a Michigan court will find a college tuition provision containing the following information to be unambiguous, it is a good idea to draft your tuition clause to be as specific as possible and to address the following issues:
- Private or public university,
- Undergraduate and/or graduate school,
- In-state or out-of-state,
- Which college expenses are included (for example, tuition, room, board, books, etc.),
- Whether the child is required to obtain scholarships or other forms of funding, and
- If payments will cease on a certain date or upon a certain event occurring (for example, child reaches a certain again, child’s G.P.A. falls below a certain number, etc.).
Contact a Local Divorce Attorney
Do you have questions about drafting an enforceable college tuition provision under Michigan law? If so, contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins today to set up an initial consultation with one of Michigan’s premier divorce attorneys. Our Bloomfield Hills office can be reached by dialing (248) 646-7980.