Exclusively handling complex divorce and family law matters for individuals throughout Birmingham

What divorcing parents need to know about college expenses

On Behalf of | Jan 23, 2023 | Divorce |

You’re divorcing your spouse, not your child, so that means you still want the absolute best for their future – and you know that your child has always dreamed of a higher education.

Your upcoming divorce, however, makes everything very uncertain. Here’s what you need to know to start planning your negotiations:

Child support automatically stops in Alabama at 19 years of age

Generally speaking, the state won’t order child support payments to continue past age 19 – and it certainly will not extend that support for the sake of college. That means that you cannot force your ex-spouse to contribute to your child’s college expenses if they refuse to do so. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there’s nothing stopping parents who agree to support their child’s college dreams from crafting their own agreement on the issue – and it’s wise to do that in writing, so that there are no disputes over the subject later. This should include everything from the maximum out-of-pocket each parent will pay for tuition to the division of other educational costs, like housing and books.

You may want to be strategic about physical custody

Thinking ahead could save you and your ex-spouse thousands – especially if you have disparate incomes.

Most students rely, at least in part, on some form of financial aid for their college expenses, and that means filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). When parents are separated or divorced and living apart, the student uses the financial information of the parent they live with the most as the basis for their need.

Even if shared physical custody is ultimately the goal, tilting the custody schedule just slightly so that your child spends a little more of their time with the less-affluent parent could result in a much bigger aid package.

When you’re caught up in the middle of your divorce, it can be very difficult to think of the future – but experienced legal guidance can make it a lot easier.