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Is Private School Tuition Included in Child Support?

Young girl in private school uniform. Vertical composition.

Like all states, Pennsylvania has statutory guidelines for basic child support but also allows judges the latitude to order a noncustodial parent to pay for certain extras. Rule 1910.16-5 of the Pa. Rules of Civil Procedure allows the court to deviate from the support guidelines when considering the following factors:

  • Unusual needs and unusual fixed obligations
  • Other support obligations of the parties
  • Other income in the household
  • Ages of the children
  • The relative assets and liabilities of the parties
  • Medical expenses not covered by insurance
  • Standard of living of the parties and their children
  • The length of the marriage
  • Other relevant and appropriate factors, including the best interests of the child or children

Although this section does not specifically mention private school tuition, such an order is possible based on “the best interests of the child or children,” especially when the “standard of living of the parties and their children” suggest that private school is appropriate.

The “other relevant and appropriate factors” which courts tend to consider when deciding whether to order payment of private school tuition include:

  • Whether the parents attended private school
  • Whether the child was enrolled in private school prior to the divorce
  • Whether an older sibling was enrolled in private school prior to the divorce
  • Whether an expectation of private school education was established prior to the divorce
  • Whether the child’s peers attend private school
  • The quality of available public school alternatives

Courts are generally concerned with minimizing the impact of a parents’ divorce on their children, so where there has been a precedent or an expectation of private school education, the court will generally order tuition, even if it requires financial sacrifice from the supporting parent.

The Law Offices of Jennifer Courtney & Associates, P.C. handles all aspects of child support including initial litigation, modifications, and enforcement actions. Call us at 215.493.3360 or contact our Yardley office online to schedule a consultation. We serve clients throughout Bucks County, including Newtown, Washington Crossing, and Richboro.

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