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How divorce affects college financial aid

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2021 | Divorce

After a divorce, there are several things you and your former spouse will have to divide as fairly as possible. One of these things may be your child’s college education expenses. If your child is currently enrolled in college or will be entering college soon, here are a few things you should know as a New Jersey resident.

Who fills out the FAFSA?

If you are divorced or separated and your child is attending college, you will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, for your child if you are their custodial parent. To be considered the custodial parent, your child will have had to reside in your home for at least 12 months. The 12-month mark is determined by the date on the FAFSA form and not the calendar year.

Keep in mind that on the FAFSA, “custodial parent” does not automatically indicate that you were awarded legal custody of your child after the divorce. If you and your ex share custody, the parent who offered the most financial support to the child in the last 12 months is required to fill out the FAFSA. This is most likely you if you claimed your child on your most recent tax return.

Additional information for the FAFSA

If you and your child’s other parent never married, you should fill out the FAFSA as if you’ve gotten a divorce. However, any alimony or child support you received from the child’s non-custodial parent has to be noted on the FAFSA.

Since there is an odd number of days in the year, a “tie breaker” to determine the custodial parent won’t be necessary if you and your ex have 50-50 custody. However, tie breakers may be appropriate if the FAFSA is filled out during a leap year or if the divorce was recent.