Many divorcing couples have a laundry list of items that they know will be a part of their divorce communications and settlement – their children, house, cars, family business, vacation rental, 401K, etc. However, one item that many people do not think to add to this list is the subject of college for their children.
Tackling any and all subjects alongside your experienced divorce attorney during your divorce and clearly agreeing on them with your soon to be ex-spouse will help you avoid going to court or running into hurdles down the road. Due to this, college is a topic that should be included during the divorce process if children are involved. Below are a few college-related topics that should be discussed during your divorce settlement:
- Will you and your ex-spouse both be contributing to a college fund? Without an agreement stating otherwise, parents do not have a duty or obligation to pay or provide their children a college education. Therefore, the inclusion of such a provision in an agreement is necessary if such an obligation is to be enforceable. As for the agreement, clearly stating who will be contributing what amount, in what type of account, and how frequently will clear up uncertainty about your children’s college fund. You may also want to make sure that both of your names are on the account, and/or you clearly decide how you would like to manage it. In addition, the type of account used can help avoid using those funds for something other than college.
- How will college expenses be paid? There are numerous college expenses, and they should be included in your agreement – from application fees, books, and food spend to tuition, transportation, and room/board. Consult with your attorney to go over the best options for covering these expenses between you and your ex-spouse, such as a 50-50 split between you and your ex-spouse, utilizing a college savings account, or a proportional split which takes income into consideration.
- Who will fill out the financial aid applications? Your children’s living situation will play a part when deciding who will be filling out the financial aid paperwork. If the child lives at one parent’s house only, then that parent will likely fill out the paperwork. On the other hand, if the child lives equally at both houses, then the parent whose income is less will likely be the one filling out the paperwork. Parents should complete paperwork with the goal of maximizing the financial assistance that would be available for the child or children.
- What life changes can affect the financial aspect of college for my children? There are some life changes that may financially affect your children’s college plans. For example, if you plan to remarry, this may affect your children’s financial aid eligibility depending on your new income levels. Discuss what you need to think about in the future with your divorce attorney so you can be prepared.
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If you are going through a divorce, and you have children who play a large role in the outcome of your divorce, it is common to feel overwhelmed for what is ahead. Being prepared with these college-related items can help, along with contacting an experienced divorce attorney who can guide you through this topic, and all others that you need to address during the process.
If you have questions about this information, or if you would like more information about how our law firm can help you, contact us online or call us at 412-261-4040.