College Funding During Divorce

Divorce and Your Children’s College Funding

When you and your spouse decide it’s time to go your separate ways, your children are likely your biggest concern. Although divorce is incredibly hard for the adults who go through it, it’s often even more challenging for children—and they don’t even have any say in the matter. With careful planning throughout your divorce, you can prepare for their future and give them the most solid foundation possible.

One issue that often comes up in Virginia divorces is college funding. It’s important to address this during divorce negotiations rather than waiting until your children are ready to graduate. Learn more about your options, and when you’re ready to discuss your divorce needs in greater detail, call Olmstead & Olmstead at 703-260-8752.

The Court’s Role

First, it’s important to note that the court cannot force this matter. It won’t force children’s divorcing parents to pay for their college, just as it cannot force married parents to cover college expenses. However, divorcing couples have full freedom to include college funding in their divorce decree.

Negotiating Your Children’s College Funding

Since the court will not intervene and make your ex agree to anything regarding college expenses, plan on negotiating. Cooperating with your ex on something may seem like a Herculean task, but the fact is that you’ll need to do this for the rest of your children’s lives—or at least until they’re adults. You both love your children and want what is best for them and if you start from that common ground, negotiations may not be as painful as you expect.

Effective Negotiation Approaches

A lot depends on the relationship you have with your ex, how committed they are to doing right by your children, and how much you are willing to compromise. Regardless of where you fall on each of these factors, you may want to start with a collaborative approach. In situations where the court cannot force the co-parent to cooperate, it’s often helpful to start with a lighter touch. 

You can focus on the benefits of a college education, the plans and dreams you had for your children throughout your marriage, and the role you both have in helping them reach their dreams. Be willing to compromise if this is truly a top priority for you; your ex may want a greater share of marital assets or something similar if they don’t care about funding their children’s college education.

This is where it’s really helpful to have a divorce attorney in Manassas. They’ve had these conversations dozens (if not hundreds) of times, and they’ll know which approaches and techniques are likely to yield the best results.

Considering Different Contribution Options

There are different ways parents may choose to contribute to their children’s college fund. Equal contributions require both parents to put in the same amount on a weekly or monthly basis, regardless of their income or other obligations. This is often best if both parents earn close to the same amount of money and split custody, as their other obligations to their children are already equal. If there is a significant income disparity, a proportional split may be the better option. This ensures that neither party has to give more than they can afford and that both parents are contributing what they are capable of paying.

Rather than contributing to a generic savings or checking account in their child’s name, parents may wish to put payments into a dedicated college fund. For example, 529 accounts have specific limitations on when and how withdrawals can occur. This ensures that your child can only use it for approved college-related expenses, rather than tapping into it as a fun fund once they reach adulthood. By setting expectations and parameters early, you and your ex can protect access to the account and keep it safe.

Choose Olmstead & Olmstead for Help with Your Divorce

Divorce is never easy, but we strive to make it as painless as possible. Let us support you through this trying time. Contact our team of Manassas divorce attorneys to get started. You can reach us at 703-260-8752 or send us a message online to schedule a consultation now. We’ll help you navigate this challenging time and prepare for a brighter future.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *