If you are going through a divorce or are beginning the process right now then there are probably a lot of immediate considerations on your mind. How are you going to pay for your divorce? How long is the case going to take?
Will you have to go talk to a judge? How am I going to hire a lawyer? How am I going to discuss the divorce with my children? These are all good questions to ask yourself.
There are also other questions that may not be as pressing but that are just as important long term. One of those questions is how you and your ex spouse will be expected to pay for your child’s college education after the divorce has been finalized.
If you have an older child who is already in high school then the information in this blog post almost immediately becomes relevant. On the other hand, if you have a younger child who is still years away from going to college the information discussed in this blog post can help you plan ahead to give yourself a chance to avoid problems down the road.
Collegetuition costs- whose responsibility is it to pay?
When your child receives acceptance letters from colleges it should be one of the happiest times that a family can experience. Years of hard work in the classroom, at home and often times on a playing field have resulted in an e-mail or letter being sent to your child stating that their application was approved and an offer is being extended to attend their college or university. Once the initial excitement subsides, however, the reality of paying for and attending the school inevitably begins to settle in.
If you are a parent who has recently gone through a divorce then this scene can bring about even more anxiety and worry than would otherwise be expected. Instead of being in a position where you can speak to your child’s other parent and work together on a solution to pay for college you must instead rely upon either a court’s order or an informal agreement with your ex spouse.
In most cases either you or your ex spouse had been ordered to pay child support until your child turned eighteen years of age or graduated high school. The big question is what responsibility or obligation do you or your ex spouse have to pay for your child’s schooling after high school?
Look to your Court Order to determine if there is any obligation for you to pay for college
Your Final Decree of Divorce will contain the orders (if any) for the responsibility of yourself or your spouse to pay for the college costs of your child. There are no laws (currently) that force parents to pay for the educational expenses of their children after high school so whatever your divorce decree says will be what a court is able to enforce should an issue arise.
Typically in a divorce your final orders are not determined by a judge but rather by your ex spouse and you in the form of a mediated settlement agreement. This means that instead of resolving your case in court with a judge, you both chose to work out your differences with the assistance of a mediator. The terms of your settlement agreement were then incorporated into your final decree of divorce.
If you and your ex spouse did negotiate and settled on an issue of paying for your child’s college costs then often times the money is kept in a trust fund or something similar until the time the child needs to utilize the money.
How to structure your settlement language in regard to college savings
On top of child support, you and your spouse should be sure to make the language in your divorce decree crystal clear as to college costs and savings. A breakdown of what percentage of costs you and your spouse are responsible for paying as well as a list of other expenses to be covered and how the payments will be made and when should be specified.
Up front payments may be a better alternative to making recurrent payments
In order to avoid having to make periodic payments for college costs in the future it makes a lot of sense to save for and set aside the largest amount of money that you are able to early on in your child’s educational career. This means that while you may need a little more time to recover financially from the divorce it also means that your portion of the child’s college responsibility may be taken care of very early in their life
This is especially true if you’ve chosen to invest your child’s college savings in a 529 account or similar investment account. In Texas a popular investment tool under the 529 heading is called the Texas Tomorrow Fund. The TTF allows investors to choose the type of investment that their money goes into, largely based on the age of the child. If you are like me with two young children, you can afford to be a little aggressive in the investment type you’ve chosen. However, if your child is nearing the age where he or she will soon be attending college then it may be a better idea to scale back on your aggressive investing and instead choose to be more conservative.
Of course, my objective is not to provide you all with any specific investment advice, but only to walk you through the situation as I would a prospective client.
Costs of college a concern for your family? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you are divorced or are in the process of getting a divorce then please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC to discuss any concerns you have with paying for your child’s college education. We offer free of charge consultations where your questions can be answered by one of our licensed family lawattorneys.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
- What do I do if I have overpaid child support in Texas?
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- Texas Child Support Appeals
- In Texas are Child Support and Visitation Connected?
- Why Ignoring Child Support Obligations is a Bad Idea in Texas
- Texas Child Support – Trust and Annuities
- Special Needs Children in Texas Child Support Cases
- How to get above guideline child support.
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding Divorce, it's important to speak with one of ourHouston, TX Child Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our Divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.