Negotiating College Costs as Part of Your Divorce: Pt. 2

May 5, 2017

A divorce involving children means both you and your ex-spouse will have to agree on decisions about their future — not only in terms of finances, but also how to instill core life values. As parents, it’s your responsibility to help prepare your children for adulthood, even when navigating a divorce. The first step most children take into the real world begins when they go to college, and it’s vital they are prepared both financially and mentally. At Post Polak, one of our Family Law Attorneys, Siobhan Beere, stated, “I have had several very successful clients who had strong opinions about having their children work their way through college, because they had to during their own college experience. They felt it was beneficial for them to instill a sense of responsibility.” If you agree with this notion, consider including these implications for your children in your divorce settlement agreement:

1.     Make it your children’s obligation to apply for grants and student loans. Numbers and bills are just numbers and bills, until your children are required to pay themselves. This will provide a whole new world of perspective, we promise.

2.     Parents and children should both be involved when prepping and reviewing all financial aid applications. While it’s vital for your children to start understanding what these documents mean, it’s also vital that you (both) supervise.

3.     Prioritize joint decision making. Whether it be on the types and amount of SAT prep courses, selection of school and related costs, majors and minors, studying abroad — one person should never make these choices.

4.     Determine whether your children should be required to work during the school year or during the summer (again, once they see how all those trips to Starbucks and late night pizza deliveries start adding up, they’ll start to make smarter financial decisions). If being employed is a necessity for your children, determine any expectations of the job (i.e., limitation on hours worked during the school year).

5.     Have your children provide copies of everything — transcripts, financial aid applications and rewards, number of credits taken, records of expenses earned and any available assets which can be used for college expenses. Instilling this kind of “bookkeeping” teaches children to be on top of their finances, which is something valuable for life.

Going through a divorce while simultaneously preparing for college can seem like a lot to take on. But taking the appropriate steps to smooth out all the bumps in the road will make the process more seamless. Take solace in the fact that you are not alone in this, and there are people willing to help. At Post Polak, we specialize in Martial Law and our divorce attorneys are always on call. If you’re having trouble sorting through the complexities of divorce and your children’s college expenses, give us a call at (973) 228-9900. It’s 100% free for a phone consultation, so let’s get started. Curious what judges consider in these types of cases? Read Part One of our series regarding negotiating college costs in a divorce.