Divorce is one of the most difficult things a couple can go through. If you have children, it may be even more challenging. Your focus is likely on immediate matters like where the children will live, how you will divide responsibilities for them, and how you will support them when you and your ex are living separate lives.
One item you don’t want to overlook is your children’s college educations. Whether your kids are only a year or two away from a New Jersey high school graduation or they are still in elementary school, you may have discussed or even implemented plans to send them to college. Your divorce is not the time to abandon those plans but rather to make them more complete.
Negotiating for your child’s future
Your divorce agreement will certainly include details about how you will divide the properties, the furniture, investments and other assets. You will also discuss how to fairly split any debts you accumulated. It is appropriate that you make decisions about how to provide financial support for the college educations of your children. Perhaps it is too early for a very detailed plan, but your divorce agreement can certainly include decisions about how and when to revisit the matter.
The goal is to clarify as much as possible in writing to avoid returning to court in the future. Some factors you will need to negotiate may include:
- How will you divide your contributions for tuition?
- Who will cover expenses like laptops, books, meals and phone plans?
- What will you do if, when the time comes, one of you is unable to meet the financial contribution you agree upon now?
- What will change if a child decides to take time off after high school before going to college, or to skip college altogether?
- Who owns the 529 college savings plan, and how will that affect asset division as well as financial aid eligibility?
Financial aid issues may be tricky. For example, if one of you remarries, it may change your child’s eligibility for federal aid. Additionally, the government bases a child’s eligibility on the salary of the custodial parent, and this may change over time. If you have aspirations to send your children to college, you will want to be certain to iron out as many issues as possible during your divorce. With the aid and advocacy of a skilled attorney, you may have a better chance of meeting your goals.