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Making college plans for children in a divorce

Tennessee parents who are getting a divorce may want to include language in the settlement agreement that deals with how they will pay for their children's college education. There are a number of elements that should be addressed.

The agreement should be as specific as possible. For example, it should list what will be covered, such as tuition, books, laptops and meal plans. Parents who are unsure about the exact monetary contribution they will be able to make should not give a dollar amount since the agreement is legally binding. The agreement may also state where the funds for college will come from, such as a 529. Parents should consider what will happen if the children decide not to attend college, want to take a year off or want to study abroad. The agreement should also say how long the child will be supported since college usually lasts past the end of child support. Parents should set guidelines for estimated expenses.

Parents should keep several points in mind if the children will apply for financial aid. They should think about which one of them should be the custodial parent, since that parent's financial information is used, and who owns the 529. If parents plan to remarry, they should find out whether it will affect financial aid for their children.

Parents should prioritize the best interests of the children in all aspects of the divorce agreement ranging from making plans for college tuition to deciding on custody and visitation. Dealing with custody issues can be a painful process because often neither parent wants to give up time with the child. However, it is usually best for the child to be able to spend time with both parents.

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