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Parents' divorce can impact a child's ability to attend college

Parents who are going through a divorce are often focused on how it will impact their current reality. Many don't think about how the situation might affect everyone involved in the future. This can be devastating down the road for the children.

Your divorce may play a part in your child's ability to receive financial assistance for college. Most children can't just pay for classes outright, so not being able to secure aid can prevent them from being able to attend school.

Planning for the future

Even if your children are younger, now might be the time to address the need to have a 529 college savings plan, which is known as the Arizona Family College Savings Program. This provides money for the child to use for educational options beyond high school. In some cases, the funds might also be able to cover some of the costs for education prior to high school graduation. There is a limit of $10,000 per beneficiary per year for pre-college expenses.

One consideration for this plan is which parent should be listed as the owner of the plan. Typically, this should be the custodial parent because having the non-custodial parent named as the owner can have negative impacts on the child when the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is filed.

Federal financial aid

When a student fills out the FAFSA, he or she will need the income and asset information for the custodial parent. This will also include the stepparent if the custodial parent remarries. Trying to work around this is illegal and can lead to serious financial impacts. It is possible that your child will need to bring verification of income and court ordered support.

Other considerations

Some parents might decide that they are going to work together to fund the child's college expenses. This should be reflected in legal documents so that there aren't any misunderstandings about what is going to happen. Remember, child support will likely stop when the child turns 18 so if extended support is necessary, those plans will have to be made as part of the child custody and support documents.

Working with your ex to come up with the terms of these agreements might help to get things figured out more efficiently and expediently.

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