Row of schoolchildren studying in front of a computerMany parents decide to enroll their children in private school. However, that decision is complicated when parents are separating or divorcing. The determination of whether to split the costs of private school may be considered as part of a child support order.

Under California child support law, private education is considered a discretionary add-on, rather than mandatory, meaning that family court judges must consider whether sharing the cost of private education is appropriate on a case-by-case basis. Whether negotiating a family law agreement or preparing arguments for court, you should consider the following:

  • Can you and/or the other parent afford it? Arguably the most important factor is the ability to pay, looking at each party’s net income. The costs of private school are generally split evenly between the parties, but either may argue for a different allocation.
  • How long (if at all) has the child attended the private school? The court may consider how a change of schools could negatively impact a child’s social and academic development.
  • Does the child have any special needs? The court may consider if the child has a special physical or mental disability that is more appropriately addressed at a private institution.
  • What are the alternatives? It is important to take into account the alternative education facilities available in your area. You should assess the schools’ reputation, neighborhood safety, and additional factors relevant to the best interest of your child.

If you and the other parent have a disagreement over your child’s attendance in private school (or you anticipate such a disagreement), you should consult with a family law attorney experienced in child support law in California.

This blog was written by Carolina Mejia Erazo under the supervision of James J. Tiehm. James is a family law attorney at Family Law Center. He practices exclusively family law and serves the greater Sacramento area, including the counties of Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer, and Yolo. If you need assistance with your divorce, including child support issues, call James at (916) 488-5088 to schedule a consultation.