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Divorce and college: Who is responsible for what?

When deciding the terms of a divorce agreement, there are many issues that need to be considered. Among them are who will get the house, who will have custody of the children and how much child support should be paid. Many Florida couples seeking a divorce often overlook one important item — who will be responsible for which of the children’s college expenses?

When children are young, college appears to be in the distant future. However, time seems to fly by, and suddenly it is time to start thinking about college. If a prior agreement has not been reached, college can become a stressful issue for divorced parents. Suddenly, two individuals who may not be on the best of terms are forced to discuss financial issues.

One way to resolve the situation would be to go ahead and address it in the divorce agreement. Even if children are young, decisions regarding which parent will pay which expenses can be made. Then, if circumstances change, these decisions can be re-negotiated.

Another item to consider is protecting money that has been set aside for college. If the college fund is maintained in a regular account, it can become part of the divorce settlement and be utilized for other expenses. However, if it is protected in a 529 plan, it can only be used for college expenses.

Most Florida parents want what is best for their children. For this reason, they often save and plan for their children’s college education. This is why it is important to go ahead and plan for college as a part of the original divorce agreement.

Source:, Four things divorced parents need to know about college, Geoff Williams, Feb. 28, 2014