While many crucial issues may come to your mind during a divorce, such as asset division, child custody and support, and spousal maintenance, there are some that you may not immediately consider. One of these is how college expenses will be taken care of for your children after your divorce. A college education can be quite expensive, and even married parents have disagreements and financial difficulties when trying to pay for their child’s tuition. Understandably, this may be a heated issue between divorcing or already divorced parents. When you hire a seasoned attorney from The Maine Divorce Group, you will receive the support and guidance that you need to determine how college expenses should be handled.
Each state has their own views and laws about how divorced parents should handle college expenses when that time comes. In Maine, the custodial parent collects child support from the other parent until the child is 18 or graduates from high school but not later than age 19.
The court does not have legal authority in this state to order either parent to pay college tuition. However, an agreement, referred to as an education clause, can be made between the divorcing spouses about how college expenses will be paid. If a judge signs off on the agreement, and it is in the divorce decree, the court can enforce what was agreed upon. If financial or other circumstances change between the issuance of the decree and when the child goes to college, a modification must be requested from the court.
Even though Maine family courts cannot legally mandate spouses to pay for their child’s post-secondary education, there are several ways of setting up the conditions of the divorce so that it leads to the child getting money for college. If it makes financial sense, sometimes the parent receiving child support will put some or all of their child support away to save for college expenses.
Structuring the divorce agreement so that the custodial parent receives more assets and less income in the settlement is another way to plan for college expenses, especially if you have children nearing college age. Doing so can increase the child’s eligibility for financial aid, learning credits, tax incentives, or student loan interest deduction. However, assets with high values can create a substantial tax liability, if liquidated for college costs. The parent who is responsible for future college costs may not want to be assigned assets that have the potential for a significant gain or loss, for example, stocks. Substantial tax liability at the same time as college costs accrue is not something most custodial parents want to get into.
Your Maine family law attorney can evaluate your specific circumstances and help you come up with the best plan for providing for your child’s college expenses within your divorce. Even if your children will not be headed to college for quite some time, divorce makes it necessary to consider how these expenses will be dealt with now. To learn more, schedule your divorce consultation by contacting us today.
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The attorneys at The Maine Divorce Group understand how emotional and complex the divorce process can be and we are here to help.
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