College expenses are one area that can be addressed in a divorce settlement, but many couples choose not to do so. This can be a mistake if you really want your children to have a college education, particularly if you want your spouse to pay their fair share toward that education.
The problem is that in many cases the children are so young that it is almost impossible to determine what will be a fair contribution on the part of both parents for schooling that may or may not occur years in the future. Many couples do not want to be tied to an agreement that may put onerous responsibilities on them a decade or more into the future when they may be remarried and have other children to consider.
Therefore, it is important to think carefully about what you want to do about your child’s college fund before getting divorced. Here are some possible solutions to this issue:
- Create a college fund that will receive regular contributions from both parties. You can elect, with the agreement of your former spouse, to place money in an account that will be designated for the benefit of your child. Many states now allow parents to set up a college fund with tax benefits and make regular contributions; some states even guarantee tuition at a state school if the parents agree to contribute to the college fund regularly.
- Designate certain investments for a child’s college expenses. Some parents may be able to designate the proceeds of an investment to be used for a child’s tuition and expenses while in college. If this is an option and both parents agree, it can be an easy way to fund education.
No matter what you decide to do, it is important to have the cooperation of your former spouse if you expect them to make contributions. Additionally, it is important to limit the circumstances under which withdrawals can be made from your child’s college fund to avoid reckless spending on the part of any of the parties involved, including the child when he or she reaches 18.
For more information on addressing support, custody and divorce issues, contact the Men’s Legal Center. Our attorneys are ready to work with you to help you through this difficult time and protect the rights and interests of you and your children.