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How co-parents can prepare for college tuition costs

Parents are not ordinarily obligated to pay for their children’s college educations. Once children turn 18-years-old, they become legal adults and thus are often expected to fend for themselves financially. However, sometimes college tuition is treated like other child custody and support matters in the sense that the court either expects parents to negotiate a settlement related to this expense or the court simply orders one or both parents to pay a share of this cost.

More often, parents simply desire to help put their children through college or they desire to help defray a portion of related costs. In these instances, it can be beneficial for co-parents to begin planning for their children’s educational costs well in advance of their children’s high school graduations.

It may help if parents proactively involve their attorneys and negotiate a financial plan that can be enforced by either party when the time comes. Otherwise, each parent risks that the other will not follow through on his or her part of the bargain. This proactive approach will also allow both parents to budget appropriately, when considering what their children’s projected educational costs will be.

It is also important to research who should or must disclose earnings on financial aid forms, as this information could impact the ways in which either parent chooses to set money aside. In addition, it is important to set educational funds aside in such a way that they cannot be touched for any reason beyond tuition, especially if there is a risk that one or both parents may want to dip into these funds for their own uses.

Source: The Huffington Post, “4 Ways Divorced Parents Can Plan For Their Kids' College Tuition,” Geoff Williams, Feb. 28, 2014

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