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Don’t overlook your child’s college plans as you divorce

Assets are not the only thing you will be dividing as you go through your divorce. You and your spouse will either negotiate the division of your debts or accept the order of a judge. One other obligation you will have to consider is how to prepare for your child’s college education.

Even if your child is still quite young, the day when tuition bills start coming will arrive before you know it. This is something you should deal with now rather than later, and during divorce negotiations is a good time to get started.

Many factors to consider

Your divorce settlement can include an agreement for how you will deal with your child’s college education when the time comes. How much will each of you contribute, and how much, if at all, will this affect child support payments? The language in your agreement should be clear and as thorough as possible to avoid having to go back to court when the time comes to send your child off to college. Some important questions you will have to answer as you negotiate your divorce will include the following:

  • Who claims ownership of the 529 college savings plan?
  • What if, when the time comes, one of you does not have the funds to contribute according to the agreement?
  • How will it affect child support and college payments if your child decides to delay going to college?
  • What will happen to any college savings plan if your child decides not to go to college at all?
  • How will you divide financial responsibility for items besides room and board, such as meals, laptop, books or cellphones?
  • Will your contributions change if your child opts to live in an apartment, fraternity house or sorority instead of a dorm?

You may also agree that your child will exhaust other methods of payment, such as scholarships, savings, work study and student loans, before you make contributions. Your custody arrangements will determine which parent’s income your child will use for financial aid applications.

As you and your spouse work to bring your marriage to an end as peacefully as possible, you will have many more questions and concerns to address. Having a skilled New Jersey attorney in your corner can make all the difference in whether you obtain a fair division of property and an appropriate portion of future financial responsibilities.