School is more expensive than ever. Even for parents whose young children go to free public institutions. The Denver Post, back in 2013, wrote about the rise of "mandatory fees." These are costs a school may pass on to parents for things like advanced placement courses, transportation and certain text books.
Since then, the issue has only become more prominent. This summer, Colorado's child support guidelines changed to reflect this reality.
Reasonable and necessary education expenses
As of July 1, 2020, parents who separate should account for certain educational expenses when considering child support obligations. Essentially, an update to Colorado statutes allows parents to share mandatory school fees for things "directly related to the educational mission of the school." That includes, but is not limited to:
- Laboratory fees
- Fees for educational materials, such as books
- Computer-related fees
- Testing fees
- Supply or material fees
This applies to any child attending a public primary or secondary school, including a charter school.
These "reasonable and necessary expenses," as the law describes them, can be divided either upon agreement by both parents or by a court order. The cost to each parent will be in proportion with their income.
That is not the only update. The new law adds another education-related fee to the child support guidelines. Any expenses required for a child to attend a special or private school (elementary or secondary) that meets their "particular educational needs" are subject to a similar split.
The importance of a strong child support agreement
As mentioned above, these additional education-related costs will be shared when there is a court order, or if agreed to by both parents. If relying on a negotiated agreement, it's important to get these terms in writing and on the record. This includes not just the amount each party will contribute, but the actual payment arrangement, be it reimbursement as needed or a clear monthly schedule.
A strongly written agreement provides security for both parents. Neither will be surprised or caught off-guard at the expenses, and should one party falter, the terms are easier to enforce.
Most importantly, each parent can rest easy knowing their child is receiving the type of support he or she needs to succeed in the classroom.