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How can parents split the cost of tuition after a divorce?

Many young adults depend on their parents to help them pay for college. But a divorce can often complicate the matter.

Between splitting your assets and becoming financially independent, you may be wondering how you and your ex will support your child as they begin their college education.

Determine who has primary custody

Paying for college is a significant factor when determining which parent will receive primary custody. Ideally, the parent with the lower income should have primary custody so that your child can take full advantage of financial aid.

However, both parents will need to provide their financial information to your child for necessary financial forms such as the FAFSA or CSS.

Be explicit in your divorce decree

The simple answer as to how tuition gets split is that you and your ex decide. Take a look at your own personal finances and see what you are able to put towards your child’s education. It might be a 50/50 split. But it might not be.

There are also additional expenses that go into paying for college beyond tuition, including room and board and textbooks. If these are elements you and your ex will be paying for, consider splitting it that way. If you pay the full tuition, have your ex pay for room and board and any other expenses.

Ultimately, what’s important is that you explicitly state these spending terms in your divorce decree. That way, you both know what to expect from the other when it comes to paying for your child’s college education. If a dispute or disagreement comes up, you can refer to your decree to set the record straight.

Maintain open communication

It’s crucial that not only do you follow through with what you agreed upon in your divorce decree, but that you speak openly and honestly to your ex if you run into a problem. If a situation arises in which you are unable to afford your agreed amount, don’t try to hide it from your ex. Communicating with them is the best way to handle any financial issues or shortcomings so that you can both work out a way to continue supporting your child.

What it comes down to

While finances can be a touchy subject, especially just after a divorce, it’s important to address any issues and hammer out a plan. No matter how you split the cost of your child’s tuition, what matters is that they can still have the opportunity to succeed in life. Don’t let your divorce stop you from giving your child the education they deserve.

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