By Phoebe Hall, Esq., and Julie Cillo, Esq.
When parents, who have college bound children, divorce or separate before their children finish their educations, they owe it to their children to think about how the divorce will affect their children’s college educations.
Some parents disagree on what should be done about college and working out the differences is very important. Children want to plan to graduate from high school ready to be successful; and their parents’ roles continue to have an impact on this success.
Other parents agree about their roles in their children’s college educations, but they may not understand how their agreements can affect the financial benefits that may be available for their children. They need guidance for how to try to structure the best terms for an agreement related to the children’s college; and they need to understand the law related to children who are college bound.
An experienced family law attorney can help a client consider matters and collaborate with other professionals on issues such as:
- Will custody arrangements affect financial eligibility for college?
- Do they have or should they have prepaid college education plans/529s, and whose name should they be in? What should happen if the child does not go to college or does not use all the money in the plan for college expenses? Can a parent keep the money in a 529 account instead of using it for the child or children? Can a separation agreement or court order address these possibilities?
- How does remarriage possibly affect a child’s college education and benefits?
Advanced planning by parents, in conjunction with experienced professionals, can help children tremendously and can be a wonderful gift to them.