Divorced Parents: Who Pays For College Tuition After Divorce?

As a parent, one of the proudest moments you may experience is when your child walks across the stage to receive his/her high school diploma. This moment is a significant milestone in your child’s life, as well as the beginning of a new chapter – sending them off to college.

The sky-rocketing cost of tuition may carry a feeling of bittersweet anxiety. If you are a divorced or separated parent, your mind may be flooded with not just the thought of how your child’s college education will be paid for, but also the question of who will pay for it.  Who Pays For College Tuition After Divorce?

In many states, child Support payments stop when your child reaches the age of emancipation, and in Massachusetts that is the child’s college graduation or age 23, whichever is first.

Who will pay for college tuition?

Therefore, if college is foreseeable, you may want to keep the following 4 important factors in mind:

  1. In most states there is no legal obligation to pay for your child’s college tuition, unless otherwise ordered by the courts.
  2. Your divorce agreement should include a section for language determining college support obligations for both parents. For example, you may want to include what percentage each parent is responsible for, what colleges are appropriate for your child to apply to, and addressing specific expenses such as room and board, extracurricular activities, etc.
  3. If your child is still very young, and there are extra funds available at the time of divorce, it may be wise to put away a lump sum for future payment of college expenses. If you are your ex-spouse are able to agree on this, it may be wise to create a trust fund for your child(ren) so that when the time comes, they are financially well prepared for any and all college expenses. Make sure that you and your spouse both have access to any and all accounts opened for your children. This way, you can keep track of the money and make sure it is being dispersed properly when the time comes.
  4. If either spouse remarries, the likelihood of your ex building a new family is highly possible. No parent wants to see their child neglected or side-stepped for their new siblings. For this purpose, we emphasize the importance of including a college support clause in your settlement agreement, in an effort to ensure that your child’s expenses are accounted for down the road.

-Libby Mouradjian

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