Who Pays College Tuition After The Parents Divorce?

Law Blog

Part of your divorce settlement talks will undoubtedly include future financial support for shared children. Even if college is years away, you and your spouse should at least lay the groundwork for handling the tuition and other education-related expenses. To help you and your spouse create an agreement that works for you, there are several factors you should consider.  


When your children apply for financial aid to help cover the costs of college, they will need to provide income information for the custodial parent. The only exception is if the non-custodial parent also lives with the children. If the custodial parent's annual income is relatively high, whether or not the children will receive aid could be questionable.  

Although you cannot predict the future, you and your spouse are familiar with your incomes now and should have an idea of what you can expect to be earning in the future. To prevent your children from missing out on financial aid, you and your spouse need to decide how much weight income will have in deciding custody.  

For instance, if you earn far more than your spouse, you have to decide whether or not you are willing to allow your spouse to be the custodial parent so that your children can receive aid. If not, you and your spouse need to consider how to meet those future obligations. 

529 Plan

If you and your spouse opened a 529 plan for your children, you and your spouse need to also factor it into your divorce negotiations. The plan needs to be protected and there are a few options available to do this.  

You and your spouse could choose to split the plan. Joint ownership of the plan is not possible, but you and your spouse could withdraw half of the funds in the plan and deposit it into a different account. Both of you will have control over half of the funds at that point.  

You and your spouse could also focus on monitoring activity with the account. Both of you can be considered authorized agents that can have access to the information, such as the plan statements.  

If you and your spouse are not comfortable with those two options, you can opt to have someone you trust take over the plan. Both parents will have to consent to this option. You can choose a family member, friend, attorney, or other professional to help with controlling the plan.  

Your divorce lawyer, such as at Grafton Law Office, can help you identify other factors you need to consider when discussing your children's college tuition.


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