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Protecting a child's college savings during a divorce

Many parents in Pennsylvania hope to put some money aside for their children's future educational expenses. A typical college fund may be in the form of a simple savings account, savings plan or savings bond. When two parents go through a divorce, the college savings that they have accumulated for their children will be considered a marital asset that has to be divided.

Though divorcing parents may have started a college savings account with the same goals in mind, they may become distrustful of each other during the divorce process and worry about how the college savings will be used. One parent may fear that the other parent will withdraw funds from the college savings account and use the money for expenses that are unrelated to their child's education.

A legal contract called a separation agreement may address financial issues concerning a college savings account. Divorcing spouses may agree to include provisions in the separation agreement about when college savings can be withdrawn and how they can be used. The type of college savings account that parents set up could also help to protect the assets. For example, the beneficiary that is listed on a custodial 529 account cannot be changed by a parent like it can on other types of savings accounts.

A divorcing spouse who is concerned that their soon-to-be ex-spouse will withdraw money from a college savings account may want to talk to an attorney about what can be done to protect the marital assets. An attorney may help a divorcing spouse file petitions for temporary orders that may bar their spouse from liquidating any of the college savings or retirement accounts before property division proceedings begin.

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