Whether a couple in Pennsylvania has already saved money for their children’s college education or not, the decision to divorce could impact the ability to pay. The marital income that once covered the costs of one household will switch to paying for two households. In addition, judges will prioritize child support for minor children or spousal support above setting aside money for college. However, parents can work with financial advisers to build an educational payment plan.
To save money, an education strategy may have to move away from more expensive schools. The College Board calculated that families currently pay an average of $46,950 per year to send someone to a private college. A public institution, however, charges a family an average of $20,770 per school year. Due to high educational costs, a spouse cannot expect a court to impose the expense on another parent in the absence of sufficient income.
If parents set up a 529 tax-deferred education savings plan for their children during the marriage, then they can address how to handle those funds in the divorce settlement. They can choose from options such as changing the owner or beneficiary of an account or withdrawing the funds.
In addition to working with a financial planner, a divorcee might want to consult an attorney. Legal representation may inform the client about rights to certain assets, such as retirement accounts, and how state laws might influence the amount of child support. An attorney might also negotiate with the other party to create a divorce settlement that directs the financial division of the marriage. The efforts of an attorney might help the client come to terms with the former spouse without resorting to lengthy litigation.