Don't forget college tuition during child custody negotiations

For many Florida parents, making sure that their child receives a college education is a top priority. During a divorce, however, that priority can be overlooked in favor of more pressing concerns. Unless college tuition and other expenses are specifically addressed in a divorce settlement and child custody agreement, parents have little recourse in securing assistance from their former partner when the time comes to begin writing checks.

One way that parents can address this matter is by agreeing that both parties will provide financial support at a predetermined rate once the child begins his or her college education. For example, if a wife earns considerably more than her husband, she might agree to cover 35 percent of college tuition and expenses while her husband agrees to cover 15 percent. The additional expense will be the responsibility of the student, who will be expected to take out student loans or earn scholarships to cover that portion.

Other families could decide to set up an education savings plan or a dedicated trust to address college tuition expenses. No matter how a plan is structured, the important thing is that these anticipated expenses are discussed during the course of divorce negotiations. That avoids a situation in which an unpleasant surprise arises at a time when both parents should be focused on celebrating the success of their high school graduate.

Florida families who are going through divorce and child custody negotiations should set aside time to discuss a plan for addressing college tuition and expenses. In many cases, this is an area where both parties can agree to work together to place the needs of their child at the forefront. Because paying for college is often seen as a privilege and not obligation, this may be one area of the divorce that Florida couples find easy to negotiate.

Source:, "Ask These 5 Questions Before Signing Off on a Client's Divorce Settlement", Brian O'Connell, Aug. 11, 2017

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