There are a lot of things to manage when you’re negotiating your divorce. If you have minor children, issues related to child support are usually among the most important.
However, there’s one area that’s easy to overlook, especially if your children are still young: their post-secondary educational needs. Absent unusual circumstances, child support in New Jersey ends when the child turns 17 or graduates from high school (whichever is later). That could leave your child without the necessary resources they need for their college dreams – unless you and your co-parent make an agreement now.
What sort of things should you discuss?
You and your co-parent likely have similar goals for your child’s future. With that in mind, you want to spell out as much as you can in your agreement. Some things that you need to address include:
- Whether both co-parents will be expected to contribute to the child’s college costs, and to what degree. This is best expressed as a percentage, based on each parent’s financial situation.
- Whether the money will be set aside gradually as the child ages, in a 529 plan or something similar, so that the bill doesn’t become a huge burden all at once.
- Whether you agree to finance whatever school your child may choose, regardless of cost or whether you will only finance the equivalent of a state college education.
- Who will pay for extraneous educational expenses, like books, miscellaneous living expenses and more.
- Who will pay for indirect education expenses, such as transportation (including a car and insurance) or off-campus housing – along with what is and is not acceptable.
This can all seem overwhelming to work out, especially when you have more pressing concerns, but that’s why it’s so important to have experienced legal guidance throughout the process.