How are college expenses for children handled in a divorce?

Some of us remember well what it is like to pay student loans.  Parents who plan ahead and fund a 529 Plan for their children do what they can to minimize the overwhelming debt their children likely face.

In Minnesota once children turn 18 years of age, they are adults in the eyes of the law.  While they may be a child in the parent’s eyes, the child is no longer a minor.  Minnesota law does not require a parent to pay an adult child’s college education.  Furthermore, judges cannot interfere with the how existing college funds are applied or the provisions of 529 plans or UTMA (Uniform Transfers or Minors Act) are applied to student loans.

This can be a harsh result for some parents and children who are going to receive less financial help for college.  However, a judge will enforce a previous agreement between parents for how they will contribute to college expenses, but the agreement must be in writing with both parents acting voluntarily.  Parents should be realistic in how much each is going to financially contribute.  Otherwise a judge may be concerned with enforcing these agreements.

Parents with children who are college age or coming into high school are best served by meeting with a financial adviser to plan for college tuition.  This can help the college aid child learn about the financial repercussions of college.  It can be a real learning moment for children.

A family law attorney can help a client create a strategy for how to best handle his or her child’s college expenses and costs.  Planning ahead can save the parents and soon-to-be college student many arguments and years of student loan payments.