In most states, the family court system generally assumes that children’s parents will adequately represent those children’s best interests. With that being said, some states do allow children over the age of 18 to sue their parents in order to have their college education expenses paid for. This issue here is whether children have rights that may be enforced as a result of the dissolution of their parents’ marriage. Conversely, children coming from an “intact” family do not have any rights to sue their parents or require them in any way to pay for a college education.
Children of Divorced Parents—Can Bring Lawsuits for College?
There is a perceived special need on the part of the legal system in most states to protect the children who have been exposed to the divorce of their parents, and in some states, the court is allowed to mandate divorcing spouses to pay for their child’s educational expenses – but even if they are allowed to, it does not mean they have to order these expenses be paid on the child’s behalf. Some of the factors the court is required to consider during these cases include the child’s financial resources as well as both parents and how the child is or has performed academically.
In some cases, it may be possible for one parent to act on behalf of his or her child in order to collect college education expenses from the other parent, and children, if they are 18 years old or older, can act on their own behalf and sue one or both of their parents for the expenses they have or will incur as a result of getting a college education. In cases where the parent is acting on his or her child’s behalf, it is not uncommon for that parent to use the child as a litigation strategy in order to ensure the best possible result – in the worst of cases, a child is used as a tool by one parent to harass the other parent.
While this is not considered the most upstanding way to handle legal issues between parents, courts and family law judges are becoming more and more keen to this strategy and often do not look upon it fondly, which causes this to backfire for the parent involved. Unless there is a compelling reason for children to sue their parent or parents for college education funding, judges do not hesitate to question whether or not the suit is being used as harassment or as a way for one parent to “get back” at another parent.