Paying for Your Child’s College After a Divorce

A divorce can be a stressful, emotional time. If you have children from the marriage, the concepts of child support and child custody often add an additional strain, especially if you want to ensure that regardless of what goes on between you and your soon-to-be ex, your children are properly taken care of. And while your children may be young, it is never too soon to start planning for large expenses, such as college. We all heard the recent story about the eighteen year old New Jersey girl who sued her parents, demanding that they pay for her college tuition and related expenses (she eventually dropped the suit). To avoid this type of horror story with your children, prioritize their financial future with the help of your Los Angeles divorce lawyer.

A savvy family law attorney will often suggest that a divorcing couple considers establishing now who pays for a child’s college education, even if the child’s college days are years down the road. A properly drafted child support agreement can ensure that one or both parents are responsible for funding the children’s academic endeavors and that the children receive the financial support they will need.

Continue reading to learn three tips that every divorcing parent should consider when planning for their children’s educational future.

1. Negotiate Now. A divorcing parent must consider many moving parts. One not to ignore? Your children’s education. As we stated above, determining now, in writing, who pays for what in the future can save you a giant headache down the road and help ensure that your child’s best interests are protected.

2. Designate the Funds. If you or your soon-to-be-ex have money saved for your children’s college, make sure those funds cannot be used for any other purposes, such as enabling your ex’s new partner’s shoe addiction or lavish spending habits. Discuss options with your family law attorney, such as 529 plans that are tax-free accounts for college-only expenses.

3. Student Loans. When your child is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (a form that provides students with access to federal student loans and certain grants), he or she can only claim the income of the parent with primary child support (the stepparent’s income may also be included). Depending on your specific situation, it may be more beneficial for the parent with the lower income to be listed on the FAFSA, which means child custody arrangements may need to be negotiated before college application process begins.

For more information on how to appropriately plan for your child’s financial needs during a California divorce, or to discuss any of the points raised above, contact the Los Angeles family law experts at Walzer Melcher LLP today.