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Since the dawn of time (okay, not that long) parents have stressed about how to cover the costs of higher education for their children. This issue becomes even more salient in light of a divorce. Single or married parents may choose to fund a child’s college education, but divorced parents’ actions are often constrained by the conditions of a divorce decree. For divorced parents, the question becomes more than just how, but who?

A judge may determine who will pay for a child’s college education expenses, and how much each party will pay. The parents may alternatively reach an agreement out of court within a divorce settlement. If you’re in the middle of negotiations with your soon-to-be-ex, consider the following:

Get Your Agreement in Writing

Document the details of your agreement as part of the divorce decree if you plan on splitting the costs of a college education. Consider several factors with your attorneys when drafting these terms, including:

  • Who will be responsible for paying, and under what conditions and circumstances? Should the parents split the costs equally? Will the burden be fair based on each parent’s income and overall financial situation? How should the payment structure change if you or your spouse gets hurt, gets promoted, gets remarried, etc.?
  • How many years will you cover? According to a recent survey, nearly half of college students take more than 4 years to complete an undergraduate degree. Will you pay for extra years, or will you place a cap on the amount of time you’re obligated to pay tuition, room, board, and related costs?
  • Will you put a cap on expenses? The cost of college tuition rises every year—often, to the horror of parents and students alike—at rates way exceeding inflation. Will you set a cap on how much money you and your spouse will set aside? These are all decisions you must make now, as a divorce settlement will be enforceable by law.

Talking about your finances can be difficult, especially if you’re going through a divorce. You and your ex-spouse still share elements of a future together (through your children), even if you’re no longer a couple. Presumably, you both love your children and want to support them as they mature into adults. Take time to think through a strategy that will meet everyone’s needs—ideally in conjunction with a skilled family law attorney.

By getting a head start and hashing out the details now, you can avoid fighting about it later, at the expense of your child’s education and everyone’s stress levels. Call our experienced Minnesota divorce lawyers today to ensure a fair outcome: (763) 783-5146.