While there is certainly nothing wrong with sending your kids to public school, you may want the young ones in your family to take advantage of a private education. After all, the metro area has some excellent private schools that may put your son or daughter on the path toward success.

In Colorado, private school is not cheap. In fact, the average cost of a private elementary academy in the Centennial State is more than $8,500 per year. For high school, you may have to fork over nearly $11,500 annually. Can you force your ex-spouse to pay for private tuition and other schooling expenses?

The general rule for child support

Generally, child support covers ordinary child-rearing expenses. These include housing, medical care, education, childcare and other necessary costs. Because of the widespread availability of public schools, private school tuition is not usually an ordinary child-rearing expense. Therefore, as a general rule, Colorado child support does not automatically cover private schooling.

An important exception

When making child support orders, Colorado judges must consider the best interests of your child. Therefore, if your spouse does not want to pay for private school, you may want to prove your child needs to attend a private academy.

The following factors may be important:

  • Your child’s current school and educational history
  • Your child’s post-divorce residence
  • Your child’s unique educational needs
  • Your child’s medical, religious, physical or other needs

Your bargaining power

Colorado’s judges tend to like when parents work together to solve family problems. If you can use your bargaining power to negotiate payment for private schooling, a judge is likely to defer to your agreement. Accordingly, it is usually worthwhile to negotiate educational costs with your spouse during your divorce.

If you can reach an acceptable agreement, your spouse may provide all or some of the funds necessary for your child to attend private school. On the other hand, if you cannot achieve a meeting of the minds, you may be able to secure payment by demonstrating your child’s need to attend a private school.