The Iowa Senate has passed a bill that would allows judges to order parents to pay for a child’s college education, even if he or she wasn’t married to the child’s other parent.
In many divorces, one spouse is required to pay for all or part of their child’s college expenses. The bill would let judges order any adult to pay for their child’s college education until they’re 22 years old, once tests verify that adult is the child’s parent.
"These children had nothing to do and have no control over the relationship of their parents," Senator Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque, says. "All we are asking…is to give these kids a ‘may’ — to go before a court and ask if parents can afford to help pay for a college education, that the court may order some kind of financial assistance for these young people."
Senator David Hartsuch, a Republican from Bettendorf, voted against the bill. "Currently, no child can compel their married parents to pay for their college education. This is a legal obligation that is only applied to parents who have either gone through a divorce or a paternity suit," Hartsuch says. "I do believe that creates a basic inequity."
The bill passed, though, on a 41-7 vote. Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, says the bill equalizes the treatment of parents who are divorced and parents who never married. "Under current law, the parents who have gotten married and tried to make a go of it are penalized, and the parents who never bothered to get married get away scot free," Quirmbach says. "I think this bill deals with that second inequity and that’s why I’m supporting it."
The bill now goes to the Iowa House for review.