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Paying for college tuition after divorce not easy

Given the rising cost of a college education, an issue has arisen as to parents' responsibility for paying their child's tuition after divorce. It was recently released that the average cost for one year of tuition at a private college has exceeded $35,000 and that the average cost for tuition at a public college has exceeded $20,000. This has caused many Massachusetts families to evaluate whether or not they can afford to pay for their child's college expenses, a decision that can be even more difficult if the parents are going through a divorce.

One case in particular that rings true to the issue of financing a college education was recently decided in a civil court. In this action, a daughter sued her father for failing to fulfill his contract to pay for her education until she was 25. The father counter-sued for the daughter's failure to fulfill her side of the contract by not applying for financial aid. The judge sided with the daughter, granting her a $47,000 judgment plus her attorneys' fees.

This case has resulted in a debate as to whether college education expenses should be considered in a divorce proceeding. It was found that parents who did not divorce were able to pay for 77 percent of their children's college expenses, while divorced parents were only able to pay for 42 percent. This stark contrast was due to the amount of income the parents were able to contribute which stood at 8 percent of their income if they were married, as opposed to only 6 percent if divorced.

There are a wide range of considerations Massachusetts parents need to think about when filing for divorce. In order to best prepare for these, it is important for all anticipated financial issues to be addressed prior to the finalization of a divorce order. This planning could save both parents and their children a substantial amount of future financial hardship.

Source:, "Cost of college a burden for children of divorce," Ed Greenberger, June 19, 2012

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