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Education costs and child support

In San Francisco, the right education can be hard to find, and thus many choose to send their son or daughter to a private school. Private schools do not come cheap and when you are going through a divorce the continued cost of a private education can become overwhelming.

Coming to an agreement with your ex on this should be simple, but as with anything that you will need to resolve at this time, it may get complicated. Private school tuition, is separate from other basic expenses for children, for both parents are responsible under California law. Often, private school tuition becomes a greater financial burden for a family that now much maintain two households instead of one.

Courts have discretion on whether to order parents to pay for private school.  When orders are made, the costs are typically shared equally, even if there is some difference in the parents’ respective income (this difference is supposed to be addressed by the basic (guideline) child support payment).  When children have been attending private school, a judge will consider the impact on the children of having to change schools.  At the same time, courts do not consider private school a necessity if it will create real financial hardship for one or both parents.  Remember, however, that if the judge decides, then he or she will have the final say on whether you can or cannot afford to send your children to private school.

This is an area where parents can have very different views.  Here are some tips to help you through these hard times with a healthier mindset.

Do not let your emotions get the better of you 

We have written before about the ways to avoid conflict during a divorce. It's healthier and, ultimately, simpler to avoid getting drawn into a fight. Keeping your emotions in check will allow you to make the right decisions at the right time.

Take the time to de-stress

Keeping control of yourself, however, can take its toll. You want to make sure you are giving yourself time outside of the negotiations to pursue something you enjoy. Take in a movie, read a book, do yoga or go to any of San Francisco’s venues to take in a show. A little relaxation and enjoyment will help you keep everything in perspective.

Remind yourself that this is for your kids

Whatever the reasons for your divorce, your kids don’t have any choice in the matter at all. Your priority should be to minimize the impacts on their life and security. Keeping their education consistent can be a big part of helping them feel secure. However, if keeping them in private school threatens your ability to provide financially for your children’s basic needs, then other options must be considered.

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NACHLIS & FINK

Nachlis & Fink
291 Geary Street
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San Francisco, CA 94102

Phone: 415-399-8380
Fax: 415-399-8390
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