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Helping children pay for a college – should the divorced parents do that?

Did you know that, according to research, children of divorced families will cover on average as much as 58% of their tuition bills by themselves? In contrast, children of intact families will have to pay only about 23% of their college costs. This is a massive difference, and part of the reason for this is that parents that are going through a divorce, will often overlook long term planning for their children’s college education and ways to pay for it. That’s why it’s important to make sure that this subject is discussed in details during the couples’ divorce negotiations. Ideally, each parent should agree on the amount of their contributions.

Some of the topics to consider:


Is It Required?

If you are divorced or separated, you might be wondering whether you are obligated to pay college tuition for your children. The answer will depend on the statutes enacted in your State. In most states including the State of NJ, child support expires when a child reaches the “age of majority” which is typically eighteen.


Is It Advised?

The answer is complicated and may depend on financial situation of both parents. You should consider all your financial obligations as well as the eligibility rules for financial support your child’s chosen college may extent. For example some colleges may require financial information to be provided not only from a custodial parent but also from a non-custodial one.

It is useful for you to consider how you would have dealt with your child’s tuition bills, should your family remained intact.


Does It Need To Be Part of a Divorce Agreement?

It’s very important and in the best interest of both parents as well as the children to discuss and agree upon issues relating to children’s college tuition bills while negotiating a divorce.  The parents need to put in writing the amount or percentage of each other contributions, to what extent to apply for a financial aid from a college, and any other sources of funding. This way any misunderstandings or future surprises could be avoided. This complicated issue would be simplified by an experienced mediator who will help divorcing parents to resolve it without leaving out anything of importance. Thus addressing this within a context of mediation will take another burden off the shoulders of the divorcing couples and significantly diminish a possibility of future conflicts.

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