Class Ceiling: Is Private Tuition Payable in a Texas Divorce?

When it comes to child support, Texas uses a standard support formula referenced in the Texas Family Code. In 2017, there is a ceiling of $8,500 on the amount of child support that can be calculated, and the presumed maximum amount for one child is 20%, or $1,700.

It doesn’t matter if you have custody of the children after years as the home’s Chief Domestic Officer and your ex is a Fortune 500 executive making six figures a month: unless a special need is shown, no greater amount above a $8,500 calculation can generally be ordered by the court.

So where does this leave private school tuition and extracurricular activities like camp, tennis, ballet, and horseback riding lessons? Let’s take a closer look.

Private School

In Texas, a private school education can be pricey enough when both parents are paying for it. After divorce, whichever parent retains primary custody may find themselves struggling to cover tuition costs on their own. The state basic child support guidelines that noncustodial parents are required to pay is not usually enough to meet private school fees, although the custodial parent may be able to secure additional child support for such an education.

When it comes to a child’s education, in most cases the custodial parent is the one given the right to establish the child’s primary residence, which in turn determines which public school they go to. The fact that you want a private school education for your children instead is not enough to compel a court to order your former spouse to pay for some or all of it unless there are demonstrated needs that support a child support obligation above the guideline.

If your child does have a special need, such as a disability, and a particular private school can accommodate that need, the judge may order an above-guideline child support, and your former spouse can be compelled to pay for part or all of the tuition. Although the Family Code was not specifically intended to provide for such an outcome, there have also been cases where judges have allowed additional child support if the child was already enrolled in private school before the divorce, or even if he or she had not been enrolled but the parents had mutually agreed to provide a private education while they were still married.

Extracurricular Activities

Typically, child support payments in Texas do not automatically cover the cost of extracurricular activities like sports uniforms, club fees, and lesson costs. If these are an important part of your child’s life, you may petition the court to award a support amount that factors in these expenses.

As parents, we want what is best for our children, and that can mean access to both a private education and extracurricular activities that support their mental and physical development. At Alexandra Geczi | Family Law, we are committed to helping you and your children through all aspects of the divorce process so that your new lives are as rewarding and fulfilling as possible.

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Written by Alexandra Geczi

Alexandra Geczi

Alexandra Geczi is an attorney, mediator, and founding member of the firm, Alexandra Geczi PLLC | Family Law. Alexandra is also Owner/CEO of Chief Domestic Officer Solutions, an entity dedicated to enhancing the busy lives of stay at home spouses.