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Divorced Parents Paying for College: What Are the Rules?

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If you’re a divorced parent with a teenage child, you might be wondering which parent, if either, is responsible for covering the cost of college. For divorced parents paying for college, the rule is simple in Pennsylvania. Neither parent has a legal obligation to pay for their child’s education. Still, when it comes to a big price tag like college tuition, being proactive in planning is best.

Discussing a Plan for Covering College Costs

Parents should consider discussing college expenses with their attorneys before finalizing their divorce. Then, if possible and appropriate, the parents may choose to reach an agreement concerning college in addition to their child support agreement.

There are many scenarios that could help divorced parents paying for college to do so fairly. A parent who agrees to contribute to college costs might also ask the other spouse to agree to mark some of the equitable distribution assets toward college expenses. In return, perhaps the spouse would agree to pay a longer period of alimony in exchange for the financially dependent parent accepting less in equitable distribution.

Every situation is different. Parents will need to speak with their respective counsel about the best way to move forward.

Is a Plan Always a Good Idea for Divorced Parents Paying for College?

An agreement to pay for college isn’t always beneficial to divorcing parents. For example, everyone’s lives may be very different by the time a young child is of college-age. If a parent’s relationship with that child becomes estranged down the road, that agreement is still legally-binding. Even if the parent has had no contact with the child, he or she is still on the hook for the terms the parents outlined a decade before.

Finding the Right Answer

More than 20 million students attended American colleges and universities in the fall of 2017, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Your child may be interested in enrolling in higher education. Smart planning ahead of time is the best way to ensure there is enough money to pay for tuition.

Providing these opportunities for your child does not have to come at the cost of only one parent. It’s wise to discuss all your options regarding college expenses with an experienced divorce attorney. That way, you can be sure you’re making informed decisions about your child’s future.

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