Public School vs. Private School: Considerations for Separated and Divorced Parents

September 23, 2020
Chris Macturk
Founding Attorney

Whether or not to send a minor child to private school instead of public school can be a particularly challenging issue to navigate when parents are separated or going through a divorce. While it is clearly better when separated parents can reach an agreement on this issue – and many can – when they can’t, a Judge may need to make the decision.

The primary dispute is almost always financial in nature. The reality for many parents is that private school tuition is often not financially feasible when added to the cost of maintaining separate households. The Virginia Child Support Guidelines do not automatically include private school costs, even for children who were already attending private school. However, a parent can request an increased amount of child support above and beyond the guideline calculation to help pay for private school tuition and related costs, but the Court will need to weigh and consider numerous factors before ordering the other parent to pay for private educational expenses.

Some of these factors include:

  • Both parents’ ability to pay for the private school costs.
  • Whether the child has a demonstrated special need (academic, social, emotional, psychological, religious or physical) that cannot be met in a public educational setting and require the child to attend private school.
  • The availability of quality public school education options where the child lives.
  • The child’s history of prior private school enrollment.
For parents who are separated or going through a divorce and foresee their child’s private school education being an issue, it is important to speak with a family law attorney who can explain your options and how your child’s individual circumstances may be assessed by a Court.

Attorney Christopher Macturk founded Evolution Divorce & Family Law, PLLC with the vision of creating a more client-focused law firm. Evolution’s unique pre-agreed pricing structure establishes an agreed-upon price for each case up front, allowing the client to focus on reaching the next phase of their life – without having to worry about a future bill. Learn more at

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