Q: Does a court have the authority to order payment of college or private school tuition?

A: No. A court has no authority to order payment of college or private school tuition absent an agreement. However, such agreements are enforceable when made part of the stipulation.

An example of an agreement for “College Education Costs” can be found below.

The Wife and Husband shall help support and maintain “S” in her pursuit of a college or post-high school education as follows: The parties shall pay at least $78,764 toward S’s tuition, books, room, and board while she is attending post-high school education. The parties may jointly agree in writing to terminate this obligation at any time and without notice to the minor child and said minor child shall have no rights under the Judgment and Decree or by operation of law to enforce this provision individually or by others. This is a legal obligation as between the parties, but which legal obligation can be modified or terminated if both parties jointly agree to do so in writing

The funds held in Uniform Gift to Minors Account shall be used for S’s college education. In addition, Husband has provided additional marital funds of approximately $78,764 which will be used towards college education for S for a total contribution of $90,000.

In this example, the Husband agreed to pay an additional amount toward college - $78,764 was a claimed nonmarital asset which the Wife disputed. The parties avoided the cost associated with that dispute by agreeing to use that amount for college.