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How to plan for college expenses when getting a divorce

Pennsylvania parents may be aware that the costs of going to college are increasing on average every single year. While parents may have initially agreed to help their child with covering the costs of his or her higher education, the decision to get a divorce could have an impact on the matter.

Some families take the time to get a plan together regarding how a child's college costs will be covered. However, getting a divorce often means that parents go from paying for one set of household expenses to two. This can cause the parent's financial situation and thus the college financial plan to change. This is because the court cannot force either parent to pay for college if the money simply is not available, even if there was a plan originally in place.

However, there are some steps parents can take if they wish to help out with college costs even if they get divorced later on. A 529 plan, for example, allows money for tuition and fees to accumulate. These funds are also tax-free as long as they are used for educational expenses. A financial planner could also help parents when it comes to budgeting for incoming college expenses, especially if the parents are seriously considering divorce. This way, the bills will not be a surprise to either parent when they arrive.

In the state of Pennsylvania, married, unmarried or divorced parents are not legally required to pay for a child's college costs. This is because a child is considered to be emancipated when he or she graduates high school or turns 18, whichever comes later. However, divorcing parents can agree to provide some finances towards the child's college education. An attorney may assist with drafting a property settlement agreement during family mediation that includes an agreement to assist with the costs of college.

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