Harrison & Medlin, P.C.
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How to pay for college after a divorce

As many citizens of Georgia know, going through a divorce can put a financial strain on any family, especially if the family has plans for the future education of their children. This is nowhere more apparent than when a divorce interferes with a parents' plan to send their children to college.

Currently, a private, non-profit, four-year college costs around $46,950, including tuition, fees, room and board. The same degree would cost around $20,770 at a public, four-year, in-state school. What makes matters worse is that these costs have been going up every year by 3 percent.

There are many ways that divorce can financially strain a family. To start with, parents now have to pay for two households using the same income that used to sustain one household. While the money is still the same, the bills are doubled, especially when the bills include child and spousal support. Moreover, regardless of the plans the parents had in place to send their child to college, courts will tend to prioritize the family's current expenses over future ones. Occasionally, courts may force one parent to pay for college, but this only happens if they have the money for it.

Fortunately, there are several solutions that parents can look into. For instance, they can save money through a 529 plan where accumulated money is tax-free even when withdrawn. The only caveat is that money put in a 529 plan must be used for educational purposes. In an ideal situation, parents will have set up a 529 account before even starting the divorce process.

During and after divorce, there are always details that need to be ironed out. To start with, parents need to decide who will be overseeing the 529 plan, which depends on several factors such as the level of trust between both parties. As a result, it might benefit both parents to seek legal advice from an experienced family law attorney to help them carve out the best possible future for their children.

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