Most parents appreciate the value of their children’s university, college, or trade school education. However, due to the fierce competition in today’s labor market, those without formal education or training beyond high school often find themselves at a severe disadvantage while looking for work. Therefore, even if you intend your child to pursue something other than a college degree, you presumably recognize he or she will need financial help to pay for training or some form of education.
Child support orders do not include payments for college tuition. Child support is meant to satisfy a child’s essential requirements until the age of majority (18 years old). Child support payments are not used toward higher education costs by default, and college education is often outside the term that child support covers.
College Support Agreements
Only a written college support agreement is legally binding. No matter how honest or pleasant the divorce was, you should not rely on verbal agreements. The reason? People’s opinions might shift as their circumstances change. For example, the other parent may remarry and have more children as well as extra responsibilities. You should consider doing the following to create a successful college support agreement:
- Consider the expense of tuition.
- Consider the costs of allowance, transportation, housing and board, and so forth.
- The percentage of college costs that each parent will bear.
- Will funds be sent to the college, the child, or the other parent?
- What requirements the youngster must satisfy
Remember to keep the college assistance agreement under a cap because college fees might fluctuate in the future. You can do this by agreeing on a flat sum payment for a set number of semesters. Another option is to invest it or establish a trust and only use it when the child enters college.
Applying for Financial Aid
Only the custodial parent’s income and assets are considered for financial aid purposes. The parent with whom a student resides for most of the year (183 days or more) is considered the custodial parent for federal financial assistance purposes.
When the custodial parent remarries, the step-parent’s assets will be considered right alongside the custodial parent’s assets and income. However, only the custodial parent’s income and assets are considered if they live with a new significant other but have not remarried. A legal separation is the same as a divorce as far as the law is concerned if you and your ex no longer live together.
Some couples who live apart but remain “informally” married file joint federal income tax returns; however in these cases, only the custodial parent’s information is used for financial aid reasons. On the financial aid form, a couple is considered married if they share a household, regardless of whether they are married or legally separated.
Here’s What Else You May Consider
How feasible is the college aid to be paid out of your salary? Will there be any additional responsibilities in regard to child support? Is the other parent going to have to pay child support? To what extent can and will grandparents lend a hand? The cost of applying to universities, touring campuses, and studying abroad may be items parents wish to address in their contracts.
Stewart Law Group: Arizona’s Family Law Firm
While it’s important to be there for your kids during the divorce, it’s just as crucial to be there for them once they’re ready to leave home. Incorporating a plan for higher education into your divorce arrangements helps guarantee your children have the best possible future, whether you opt to fund a predetermined amount for them for the future or provide full support if certain requirements are satisfied.
It would be an understatement to say that divorce and other family disputes are stressful. Stewart Law Group has more than ten decades of family law experience on your side. Contact us if you’re going through a divorce and have questions about planning for the future. We take the responsibility of handling your family law matter seriously. Your case and family are our priority. It’s our job to educate and guide you through making the best choices for you and your family. An experienced divorce attorney in Phoenix can guide you through the process.