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Divorce and 529 College Savings Plans

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When going through a divorce, one of the concerns is the division of assets, including college savings plans that parents have been diligently saving for their child or children. This issue is crucial to address, as college savings are handled differently depending on the state and the setup of the accounts. Your attorney will discuss your specific situation with you, but here are some details about ownership and 529 plans in Pennsylvania.

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How Divorce Affects College Savings Plans In PA

In Pennsylvania, there are two types of 529 plans: the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) and the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP). The GSP is a pre-paid tuition plan, while the IP is an investment account. In both plans, if the parent who owns the account and their spouse divorce, the ownership of the plan typically remains with the owner.

Who Owns 529: Student or Parent?

In Pennsylvania, the ownership of a 529 plan belongs to the parent or legal guardian who is the account holder. This means that even if a child is listed as the beneficiary of the plan, they do not have any rights to the funds until they are used for their education expenses.

Division of 529 Plans in Divorce Settlements

When it comes to dividing assets in a divorce settlement, 529 plans are typically treated as marital property. This means that they can be divided between the divorcing spouses through negotiation or court order.

Who Pays for College Expenses After Divorce?

While 529 plans may be considered marital property and subject to division in a divorce settlement, it is important to note that the designated beneficiary on the plan will still be responsible for using the funds for their education expenses. This means that if one parent is designated as the owner of the 529 plan and the other is listed as the beneficiary’s custodian, both parents may still need to contribute towards their child’s college expenses after divorce.

Exceptions to Ownership

However, there are exceptions to this rule. If you live in Pennsylvania and get divorced, then the court handling your divorce has the authority to reassign ownership of your 529 account. This may happen if you and your ex-spouse have an ongoing disagreement about how the funds in this account should be used for your child’s education.

If you or your spouse moved away from Pennsylvania after setting up a PA 529 plan, the state that now holds jurisdiction over your case might handle the ownership issue differently. For example, if you live in New York and share custody of your child 50/50 with your ex-spouse, then the court may not have jurisdiction to make decisions about a PA 529 plan.

The Importance of Communication

In any divorce situation involving college savings plans, it is essential to communicate effectively with your ex-spouse and your attorney. If you both understand the purpose of the 529 plan and its rules, then you can work together to come to a fair agreement about how it should be used for your child’s education.

Protecting Your Child’s Future

Divorce can be a difficult and emotional time for families, but it is important to remember to prioritize your child’s future and education. By understanding the rules and exceptions surrounding ownership of college savings plans, you can ensure that your child’s funds are used for their intended purpose – to further their education.

It is also important to keep in mind that any changes made to the ownership of a 529 plan may have tax implications. It is recommended to consult with a financial advisor or tax professional before making any decisions about the ownership of your child’s college savings plan during a divorce.

Your Child’s Education

Effective communication with your ex-spouse and seeking professional advice can help ensure a smooth transition for your child during this difficult time. So, keep the lines of communication open and stay informed about any changes or updates to the laws regarding college savings plans in your state.

Remember, your child’s education is a top priority. By working together, you can secure their future. 529 plans are valuable for their educational goals. With careful consideration and planning, provide the support they need. Divorce may be challenging, but prioritize your child’s needs for success. It’s never too late to start saving for their education. With a 529 plan, ensure they have the resources for their dreams. Don’t let divorce derail your plans – stay informed, communicate effectively, and prioritize their education. Even in times of uncertainty, your child will have a strong foundation for the future.

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