Dear Doctor Aylward:
My husband of twenty two years left me to marry his secretary, after my detectives caught him doing entirely inappropriate things to her in the bathroom of Hotel Charlotte. Despite his foul romantic judgment, he has always been a caring father, and the Twins never wanted for anything. The trouble is: the bimbo is now expecting a child, and Walter is becoming stingy. He rang me up today, asking if I would "agree" to let him pay only “his share” for the college. I think it is rotten of him to shirk his responsibilities, since he makes so much more money than I do. Everyone in our families has college degrees, and Walter had always planned on sending the Twins to Princeton. Education is very important to me. Should I engage an aggressive lawyer to fight for the Twins’ college funds?
Dear Concerned Parent:
ABSOLUTELY NO FIGHTING. Do not even dream about fighting. Ring Walter, tell him what a great father he is, and schedule a time (preferable very-very soon) to discuss this “agreement” he is offering.
The sad truth is that under North Carolina law Walter is not responsible for the Twins’ college bills. At all. No matter what he planned when you were married. No matter what your family’s accustomed standard of education is. No matter how talented the Twins are. If you take your fight to court, you will discover the hard way that the Twins are not entitled to the college tuition, no matter how aggressive your lawyer. But take heart. Outside of court, Walter is free to obligate himself in any way he sees fit. Walter’s offer is looking better already? Get yourself a diplomatic attorney, have him draft an agreement, and, while you are at it, mention to Walter that you would like to set up a 529 tax-saving plan (watch out for 2014 changes in North Carolina). Walter seems like a decent enough chap – why make him pay unnecessary income tax? Besides, when he sees how much you care, he may throw in his share of the Twins’ law school payments?