My ex won’t pay our college kid’s housing costs

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Q. My ex-husband has to pay half the college expenses for our two kids. One of the kids is moving from the dorm to an apartment, and he refuses to pay half the rent when before he was paying half the dorm costs. What can I do?
— Tired of fighting

A. You may have to go back to court.

It appears from your question that housing is an agreed upon or court-ordered college expense between you and your ex-husband.

If your ex-husband is required to pay his 50 percent share of your children’s housing costs, you can file an application with the court to enforce your property settlement agreement or your court order, said Jennifer Fortunato, a family law attorney with Einhorn Harris in Denville.

But, before you file this application, you need to evaluate the cost.

“If moving into an apartment is cheaper than paying for your child to live in a dorm, then absent a valid reason such as a safety concern, most likely a court will require your ex-husband to pay 50 percent of your child’s rent since it is cheaper than what he was paying for your child’s dorm,” Fortunato said.

If, however, the cost of an apartment is more than your child’s dorm costs, then a court most likely will not compel your ex-husband to pay any more than his 50 percent share of the dorm costs, she said.

You should discuss with your child the possibility of him or her getting a roommate(s) to decrease the cost of the apartment so that it is cheaper for him or her to live in an apartment than a dorm, she said.

“If roommates are not possible or the cost with roommate(s) is still not cheaper than the dorm, then you need to obtain reasons why paying extra for an apartment is in your child’s best interests,” she said. “For example, is there a safety issue in the dorms, is there an issue with your child not being able to study in the dorm, does your child need to attend school in the summer and there are no dorm rooms available?”

Without a compelling reason, the court probably won’t require your ex-husband to pay any more than 50 percent of the dorm costs, she said.

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