April 8, 2016

Financial Aid and Paying for Your Child’s College Tuition after Divorce

Child Support, Children of Divorce

When parents go through a divorce, they often fail to consider the long-term financial implications, like paying for a child’s college tuition. Remarriage and other life changes can further complicate matters, making it difficult to know how to navigate the financial aid process or determine how much responsibility each parent may have in covering any remaining tuition expenses. Before you file, consider the following tips and strategies for effectively managing your child’s education.

Pre-Filing Communication

Couples who work hard at discussing their present and future financial issues, concerns, and expectations often fare better than those who refuse to communicate prior to the official divorce proceedings. These should be open and honest conversations regarding finances, assets, debts, and obligations that are geared toward reaching an effective compromise. Of course, divorce mediation is sometimes necessary to reach a resolution, but parents that focus on the needs of their children typically save themselves from extra and unnecessary stress.

Possible solutions may include (but are not limited to):

  • Additional child support;
  • Agreements regarding each parent’s post-divorce tuition responsibility;
  • Education accounts;
  • Trust funds; and
  • And savings plans for the child’s future needs.

Applying for Government Aid

All college students may apply for government assistance to cover their tuition. However, those that have divorced parents should be aware of some important but common mistakes experienced by families with multiple households when completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA), particularly as it relates to “custody” and financial information.

While custody is no longer used as a term in Illinois divorces, it is still active verbiage used in FASFA forms. Parents should understand that this is not a legal term, but one to determine which parent has the child the most often during a given calendar year, and thereby provides the majority of the child’s support. If time is equally split, there are tests that families can use, but this is often best guided by a professional.

When it comes to sharing financial information, parents should be aware that only the custodial parent’s household income applies. The non-custodial parent’s household should not be included on this form because it gives the impression of having access to more money than the child actually has which can inevitably result in a FASFA application denial.

Plan Effectively for the Future during Your Divorce

It can be difficult to plan for all future events when going through a divorce. As such, parents are highly encouraged to seek the assistance of a skilled and experienced DuPage County divorce attorney to ensure all aspects are considered. The attorneys of Mulyk Laho Law, LLC can help. To schedule your free initial consultation, call our offices at 630-852-1100 today.