Can I Pay My Daughter Directly For College Expenses?

Ask a Lawyer


My decree includes a provision to pay 50 percent of my daughter’s college expenses.

Can I modify my agreement to pay the support directly to her instead of my ex?

college expenses
Virginia divorce attorney Rebecca DeVincent


In Virginia, where I practice, the duty of child support ends when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. However, parents in Virginia are free to agree to pay support during college or for a portion of the college expenses.

If both parties agree to that in Virginia, the court has little jurisdiction to make modifications to that agreement. In other states, the duty of support continues while the child is enrolled in a higher education program.

If you have a provision in your Final Decree of Divorce that obligates you to pay 50 percent of your daughter’s college expenses, you should review that with an attorney licensed in your state.

If the way the provision is drafted makes those payments more like support, meaning the money is paid to your ex-wife, then your payments may be considered child support and a judge probably would not allow you to pay that directly to your daughter.

However, if your provision is drafted in way that simply states you are responsible for 50 percent of her college expenses, you may have a stronger argument that you should be able to pay that into an account for your daughter or directly to her school for tuition, room and board or other costs.

Child support really varies from state-to-state, so I recommend that you speak with an attorney in your jurisdiction.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than tips on your situation, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your area to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they impact your potential case.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney in Virginia, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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