FAQ: How are a child’s college expenses split in a divorce?

college tuition divorce
Even if your children are young, college cost sharing is an item that needs to be addressed in your divorce settlement. What do you need to know about splitting college tuition? Here are some points to consider.

Question:

My wife and I are separated and headed for divorce. We have two kids, 9 and 10. I want to make sure our divorce agreement contains terms about college tuition cost sharing. How is this split of college expenses determined?

Answer:

As it relates to the cost of attending college, the laws in New Jersey provide that both parents have an obligation to contribute towards college tuition and related expenses after a child applies for all loans, grants and scholarships.

After that, each parent will be required to contribute based on their financial circumstances. If your spouse has the ability to work, it will be determined what their fair income should be. Even if a spouse is only able to very little, they will still be required to contribute.

Most divorce settlement agreements these days contain some language that addresses college decisions and payments and most say that both parents have some sort of financial responsibility to pay for college.

As you negotiate this language, please be aware that, generally, it is never a good idea to agree to a straight 50/50 split of college tuition at the time of divorce, especially if your children are very young. You never know what your financial situation will be ten, even fifteen years into the future.

The exact amount is usually calculated at the time a college is chosen and is based upon mom and dad’s salaries at that time.

Learn More:
Who pays for college after a divorce or separation?

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