Paragraph in divorce decree

The Plaintiff shall be responsible for the college tuition of the minor children so long as each child possesses the aptitude and ability for post secondary education. Said tuition shall be subject to any scholarship or grants which the minor children may qualify. Tuition shall be paid for a total not to exceed four academic years or until the minor child reaches the age of 23.

:confused::confused: the reason for the confussion is that 2 different lawyers has interprited this to mean 2 different things. ALL opinions welcome please!

What were the 2 lawyers’ interpretations? If you tell us that, we might be able to see where the ambiguity is.

Welcome to the SDMB, Thunderhost. We put threads looking for legal advice in IMHO, so I’ll move this there for you.

twickster, MPSIMS moderator

As long as the kid isn’t too stupid to go to college you have to pay. The kid has to try to get any scholarship or grants that he qualifies for. That will effect the amount of money that needs to be put out. The kid can become a professional student on his own dime. You are on the hook for 4 years of college or until he becomes 23 years old.

Seems pretty simple to me.

I’ll have a go based on my plain language reading:

“possesses the aptitude and ability” - this means that they need to be actually accepted into a post-secondary institute based on their grades etc. They can’t claim “well I didn’t get in anywhere, but you still need to pay me the equivalent of tuition until I’m 23.”

"Said tuition shall be subject to any scholarship or grants " If tuition is $5,000, and the student gets a scholarship of $2,000, then the plaintiff only has to pay the remainder owing ($3,000)

“Tuition shall be paid for a total not to exceed four academic years or until the minor child reaches the age of 23” Seems pretty self explanatory. Only 4 years tuition. If the degree takes more than 4, the plaintiff does not pay for years 5 and up. The plaintiff does not pay for graduate school. The plaintiff does not pay tuition if the student is over 23 years old. In other words, if the student works for a couple of years, then starts college at age 22, the plaintiff will only have to pay one year of tuition.

IANAL, but it sounds like neither lawyer’s interpretation will matter if this is disputed once the children reach college age. A judge will decide it then.

thank you

one said, " if the child isn’t making a 3.0 or better then the aptitude was not there"
the other said 2.0 and it would not matter if it were 4 years it would be till the age of 23.

this is NOT my understanding of this doc. I have written the words verbatim

this is my complete understanding also. I have paid and intend to pay for my girls education, but I do feel that they owe me in doing their best.

The paragraph doesn’t define aptitude or ability. A judge would have to rule. A 2.0 GPA should be enough; that keeps you in college. When your GPA drops below that, colleges start talking disciplinary actions. Insisting on a 3.0 is asking for ability beyond the terms of the contract.

And “not to exceed four years” is pretty obvious.

Anyway, doesn’t matter. Only a judge can settle this. Let us know how it’s ruled.

thanks everyone:) I’m glad I’m not the only one that reads this doc in the same manner:dubious:

Now if only a judge will agree:D

It might ultimately depend upon the school’s rules for making satisfactory academic progress. If the school kicks the kid out then no question he/she does not have the ability.

That might mean that a higher GPA is needed in core courses related to the chosen major and a couple D’s in elective courses might not matter.

Finally, my college expenses were the subject of such a divorce deal between my parents. It was one of the most obnoxious things they ever could have done to me. My ability to get an education was secondary to their financial squabbles and I was always trapped in the middle. YMMV.

The “not to exceed four academic years or until the minor child reaches the age of 23” wording lets the kid start a year late or take a year off in the middle, given “normal” high school graduation age of 18.

And may I take this opportunity to say how happy I am my ex-wife and I never had kids.

It seems obvious to me also yet in the part where it reads, " … not to exceed four years academic years or until the minor child reaches the age of 23 years."

that is where the lawyer said it was controversial, 4 years or 23 years … sorry I really don’t see that.

Oh well … i came here to get opinions and they are all great ones thanks all

I find the repeated “minor child” to be a little confusing.

What age does a “child” stop being a “minor”?

I might think upon turning 18, a person stops being a “minor”, and becomes an “adult”.

Is there anything which controls the amount of tuition which will be paid? I’ve wondered about this in divorces. If one parent is on the hook for tuition, is there anything which limits how much they will have to pay?

Again, NAL, but I assumed it meant the children who are minors now.

That lawyer sounds like a moron to me, but what do I know. That line seems like the least open to misunderstanding. A maximum of four academic years or until the child turns 23. If they start school at 18 but take the five year plan, dad pays for four of them. If they turn 23 and are still in school but haven’t already used up four years of dad’s financing, they pay their own way from then on.

It says:

Split into two conditions that means:

Tuition shall be paid for a total not to exceed four academic years.


Tuition shall be paid until the minor child reaches the age of 23.

Without something like “whichever occurs sooner” how do you determine plainly which condition takes precedence? If the student finishes her 4th year on her 21st birthday and has one year to go he’s not complying with the requirement to pay tuition “until she reaches the age of 23”

Don’t schools still define a C as “average” and a B as “above average”? I would love to hear a lawyer argue that if a student is not above average, but simply average, that he doesn’t possess the “aptitude and ability” for college. He’s smarter than half the students there!

Even if they have a heavy curve where he is in the bottom 10% of his class, I still can’t see it. As long as he stays in school, he should be good. I agree with Loach that the language is pretty clear.

In response to filmore, there should be a “reasonableness” requirement read into that decree. The kid can’t elect to go to the University of Hoity-Toity with tuition of $100k per year and expect Dad to pay. There would (should?) be some sort of duty on the part of the student to maximize value.