It can be easy to neglect thinking about the future when parents divorce. While most parents insist they want their children to attend college, making sure that happens by preparing financially might be a different thing. Divorce is actually the perfect time to ensure that your children are covered — no matter how young they may be now. Read on to learn more about this important future need that should be addressed now.
Why Take Action Now?
The cost of college tuition and associated costs are going nowhere but up; however, the financial impact can be lessened considerably if you start early and make steady contributions. Divorce is, at its core, a financial undertaking as much as it is anything else. If you take action during the divorce to make for your child's future educational needs, you won't regret getting this vital need out of the way. Waiting until later not only means a greater sudden financial impact but ensures that your spouse cannot evade the responsibility.
Just like child custody, splitting marital property, and assigning marital debts, a provision should be added to the divorce that addresses how a child's education is to be funded. Whether you both contribute or the party with more income provides a greater share, once it is ordered by the judge, it becomes legally enforceable.
Getting together with your spouse and creating an agreement is preferable since you two are the best qualified to plan for the unique needs of your child. Judges tend to place very high priorities on how children are treated in divorce, and a plan that appears equitable may be ordered regardless of objections from the other side. Comprehensive college plan agreements should contain the following:
1. The contribution split between both parties. If a parent is already ordered to pay child support, they may also end up being the parent who must contribute a greater share of college financial help.
2. Whether the college is state or private (with private colleges usually being more expensive).
3. The child's contribution, if any (if the child is older, there may be potential scholarship potential).
4. What is covered (tuition, housing, food, fees, books, etc).
What Else to Know
When it comes to the law, some states actually require parents to address this issue in the divorce decree. If the issue has to be decided by a judge, they may look at:
1. The income and assets of each parent.
2. The potential for the child to access grants, scholarships, and loans.
3. The academic qualifications of the child (if they are about to graduate high school).
Get together with your divorce law attorney and create an agreement addressing this need.