Everyone knows about the skyrocketing cost of college tuition. So for divorcing couples with children, there may be questions about who is responsible for supporting a college-aged child’s education and who should complete financial aid applications.
It is important to realize that Maryland Courts have ruled that a parent is not required by law to provide financial support for a child’s college education. For that reason, if there is no written agreement about college financing at the time of divorce, there is no legal route for insisting that an ex-spouse contribute to a child’s education costs.
If you and your spouse have already established savings or investments in your children’s names, these will likely be considered marital property and will be dealt with in any property settlement agreement that is drawn up. Accounts such as 529 savings plans could be split or frozen, or a specific protocol for deposits and withdrawals agreed upon by both parties can be established.
The Cost of College
When determining the cost of college for inclusion in a child support agreement, be sure to consider everything your child will need. Besides the tuition itself, you will need to cover the cost of books, room and board, and incidental expenses. These costs can change from year to year, especially tuition, which seems to be on an upward trend.
Personal financial circumstances can also fluctuate from year to year so unless designated college funds have already been set aside, it could be risky to put a specific number into writing when agreeing to a child support plan. There are a number of options parents can use instead including:
- Setting a maximum amount to be paid toward the cost of college
- Determining a percentage that each parent will pay
- Setting limits on what type of college the child can apply to so that costs can be better determined
- Agreeing to support a child’s college education and work out the details when the time arrives
Filling Out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Many students may qualify for federal student aid by completing the FAFSA. For children of divorced parents, it can be confusing as to whose financial information should be included on the application. The parent responsible for completing the FAFSA is one with whom the child lives. For children who divide their time equally between parents, the FAFSA should be filled out by the parent who provided more support. This criterion can and will be verified by colleges where your child applies, so be prepared to provide a copy of your divorce decree if they request it.
Baltimore County Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones and Miles, LLC Assist with Child Support Agreements
If you are divorcing and have children, be sure you have made provisions for their future education in your child support agreement. Talk to a dedicated Baltimore County divorce lawyer at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC for skilled counsel during your divorce settlement. Call 443-589-0150 to schedule a free and confidential consultation or contact us online. We have offices in Towson and Hunt Valley, Maryland, providing compassionate counsel to clients throughout the area, including Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Columbia, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks, Parkton, Pikesville, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.