After a divorce, a parent still is a parent. They still are the person who provides for their children and gives them the means to succeed. These children are able to bounce back from the emotional difficulties of a parental divorce and move through their educational journey, in pursuit of their futures, thanks to the tireless efforts of their parents.
In today’s society, there are those that feel that you simply are not able to get ahead and pursue the career you desire without going to college, and for divorced parents, sorting out who pays for what and when can be half of the difficulty.
Many attorneys advise the importance of negotiating these terms during the divorce itself. Detailing everything during the same section of time where you are negotiating custody schedules and parenting plans will give you a baseline to go off of, according to The Huffington Post. Given how quickly financial situations can change, this can be an important notion to establish.
For parents who are facing the questions of who pays for what and when, it is important to understand what your ex-spouse thinks of this situation, so that way, you, as a co-parent, can take action if need be.
Educational expenses are often addressed during the divorce process, so the questions of who is paying and how much are not always necessary. However, when there is no agreement in place that addresses the expenses of a child’s college education, the financial obligation depends on the laws in that state.
Some states require divorced parents to pay for college expenses, while others view a college education as a conditional expense, making payment and/or reimbursement a nonrequirement.
If your ex-spouse is uninterested in paying their portion for your shared child or children to attend college, then it is important that you act quickly through the proper legal channels to make sure that your ex-spouse is just as culpable for their portion as you are, according to Cordell & Cordell attorneys.
It is important to file an application with the court to compel your ex-spouse to contribute to your child’s college costs and expenses before the costs and expenses are being made. It also will likely protect you from several of the defenses that your ex-spouse might use, in order to get out of paying their share.
If you are on good terms with your ex-spouse and are looking to save money for your shared children’s future educational pursuits, opening up a 529 plan can be a viable option.
Many parents, divorced, married, or single, open up a 529 plan when a child is born, in order to help with the future costs of college. According to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, a 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan that comes in two different types.
Prepaid tuition plans allow a college saver or account holder purchase units or credits at participating colleges and universities for future tuition and mandatory fees at current prices for the beneficiary. These accounts are usually for public and in-state college institutions and cannot be used to pay for room and board.
College savings plans let a college saver open an investment account to save for the beneficiary’s future qualified higher education expense, such as mandatory fees, tuition, and room and board. The owner of these accounts can choose among a range of investment portfolio options, and they are sponsored by state governments.
Managing the situation
Managing the funds necessary for sending a child to college requires making sure that the money that you or an ex-spouse use, in order to pay for attorney fees is not the same money that you were saving for your child’s schooling.
This type of management also includes who fills out what form that pertains to college financing. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) details that the parent, of which the child lives with the most, has their income under a microscope. If there is a stepparent married to the custodial parent, their income will be taken into account as well.
However, co-parents and the child need to consider which household will help them receive the most student aid.
“Assuming that a student is living with both parents equally, the parent with the lower income should fill out FAFSA,” said Steven Roy Goodman, an admissions strategist and educational consultant.
This method can extend to taxes and child custody and how they interact with federal student aid. Even if you have joint custody with your co-parent, the time spent at one house over another may affect the money you could potentially receive for college.
For example, if one parent can get the child more federal student aid than the other by having them live there more often, it may be beneficial to have your switch which household is considered to be primary and is claiming the child on their taxes.
No matter whether you are on good terms with your co-parent or not, you both need to set aside your history and animosity for the good of your child. They deserve the opportunity to better themselves through an education necessary to improve their future in today’s society.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.
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