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Child custody, child support and private schooling

A divorce can take a tremendous toll on the emotional well-being of kids. To minimize the potentially negative consequences your divorce has on your children, you likely want to provide as much stability as possible. Keeping your young ones in the same school is apt to be a successful strategy.

If your kids go to a private school, tuition and other education-related costs may be quite expensive. Fortunately, you may be able to use child support to pay for your children's educational expenses. If you plan to go this route, though, you must know how Virginia law treats the intersection of child custody, child support and private schooling.

The child support guidelines

The Hampton Roads area has an impressive selection of private schools. Regrettably, though, Virginia's child support guidelines do not account for the high costs that routinely accompany private school attendance. Rather, the guidelines assume children attend public schools or other more affordable institutions.

A child support deviation  

If you and your ex-spouse cannot reach an acceptable agreement about paying for private schooling, you may need to ask a judge to deviate from the child support guidelines. A judge is likely to do so if you can prove both that your children need to attend private school and that your ex has the financial ability to pay for it. 

Relevant evidence

Proving a parent can afford private schooling is usually straightforward. Demonstrating that children need to attend a private school, however, can be significantly more challenging. Therefore, you likely want to gather evidence to address the following factors:

  • Your children's educational histories
  • Your children's special educational, emotional or physical needs
  • Your children's religious, cultural or tradition-based needs
  • The availability of acceptable public schools

Virginia law requires judges to consider the best interests of children. So, providing proof that your children's well-being depends on remaining in the school you have chosen for them is likely to be successful.

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