When a child is planning to go to college, California parents may become worried that their plans to get a divorce could have an impact on whether or not their child actually gets to go. However, careful planning, even if a divorce is just around the corner, can help keep a child’s education on track.

The costs of going to college, which include tuition, fees and room and board, go up by about 3 percent every year. In the 2017-2018 school year, the costs of college amounted to an average of $47,000 for a nonprofit private school and about $21,000 for an state public school. However, only about 66 percent of married parents have a financial plan in place when it comes to their children’s college educations.

When people are going through a divorce, however, they should be realistic about the state of their future finances. A court cannot order a parent to pay for college if he or she does not have the money. This means that parents and the child may have to scale back education plans, especially since living expenses may double when parents go from supporting one household to two. However, there are other alternatives that can help pay for school, like student loans and scholarships.

When a couple gets divorced, the noncustodial parent will often be required to pay child support. While child support is commonly thought to end at age 18, this may not actually be the case, especially if the child is going to college. If the child does not go to college but has reached the age of 18, a parent may go to court to request that the child support payments be ended. A family law attorney may assist with filing the legal documents and providing evidence that the child no longer needs the support.

Source: CNBC, ‘How to keep your divorce from sabotaging your children’s college education,” Lorie Konish, May 18, 2018