Based on the numbers for the 2015-2016 academic year, the cost of attendance at college could range from about $25,000 to $65,000 or more, depending on many factors. At these prices, each Denville child support attorney at our firm advises even high-income divorcing parents to become aware of all available financial issues pertaining to their children’s educational pursuits. These concerns are vital when negotiating a child support settlement.
College Costs Can Become a Major Issue of Divorce
If left in the hands of New Jersey courts, divorced parents are often required to contribute to their children’s college costs based on their ability to afford the expenses, as well as a number of other factors. That said, the best time to decide how to pay these costs is generally long before the children reach college age — and certainly before a divorce case gets to court.
Perhaps the two most important issues that divorcing parents need to look at are the following:
- Incorporating college costs into support agreements: If the children are close to college age, parents can incorporate a high level of detail, possibly specifying dollar amounts and how many semesters should be covered in the agreement. Of course, more questions than answers exist when the children are still young at the time of divorce. Most parents have no way to anticipate college costs — or even if every child will go to college, trade school or pursue higher education at all. In these cases, experienced child support lawyers can guide parents toward negotiating agreements that incorporate flexibility based on a variety of situations.
- Financial aid: Parents need to consider whether financial aid is likely to be available to help reduce out-of-pocket expenses when the children go to college. This is also the best time for both parents to understand their roles in the application process — and how issues like the child’s residency, remarriage of the custodial parent, income and non-retirement assets can affect the amount of aid to expect, if any aid is available at all.
Accurate Financial Assessments Are Essential at the Time of Divorce
Of course, every family’s financial situation is unique, and many changes can occur before the children begin their college careers. Still, parents need to base their support agreements on known valuations at the time of divorce, possibly combined with probable future developments, such as an expected future promotion. A clear accounting of each parent’s financial holdings at the time of divorce is essential in determining individual responsibilities toward college support. In fact, those responsibilities are likely to be considered when dividing property, as well.
The important thing to understand is that child support involves issues well beyond the daily care and feeding of young children. The settlement at the time of divorce can affect children’s ability to obtain the education needed to achieve their future goals. The attorneys at Riordan & Associates, LLC are well aware of these issues and we are dedicated to helping parents look out for their children’s long-term welfare. To learn how we look after the financial wellbeing of the entire family, call us or use our convenient online contact form.