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Include kids' college funding in your Ohio divorce settlement

It makes sense to move through hard times as quickly as possible. For many Columbus spouses, that includes divorce. The end of a marriage often comes with emotional, physical and financial upheaval that no one wants to prolong.

Attorneys don't want to make divorce more unpleasant for clients than it has to be, but there are good reasons to make careful choices. The terms of your divorce could affect you and your children for years to come. Divorce appears to be an immediate obstacle, but a settlement reflects the financial future.

Many divorcing Ohio couples focus on child-related legal issues based on present day circumstances. A 5-year-old's higher education seems too far down the road to think about for parents working out today's arrangements for child custody and support. Regret is common among ex-spouses who bypass divorce terms for college funding.

Who gets the college bill when no provisions are made for children's education in a divorce settlement? The answer is frequently the parent with primary custody. A non-custodial parent can be asked but can't be forced to contribute, unless a post-divorce modification is approved by a court.

Family law attorneys suggest working out college finances during divorce, no matter how young a couple's children are. Another recommendation is putting higher education funds into accounts, like 529 plans, that can be used for nothing other than college. Parents also should consider projected expenses beyond tuition, like additional school or living costs.

Some college costs can be defrayed by scholarships and loans. Aid applications are based on the student's primary residence and parental income. When parents share equal physical custody, admissions experts say it's beneficial for the lower-income parent to submit the aid application.

Divorce can seem like an odd time for an Ohio parent to address the issue of college. Five, 10 or 15 years from now, you might be very glad you did.

Source: Reuters, "YOUR MONEY-Three things divorced parents need to know about college" Geoff Williams, Mar. 03, 2014

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Treneff Cozza Law, LLC
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