Residents in California who are getting a divorce while their kids are still in elementary, middle or high school should add funding higher education to the list of topics they must address as part of their divorce negotiations. Even parents with very young children should focus on this, despite how far away college may feel at the time of their divorce. There may be no legal way to require a former spouse to contribute to this effort without it being documented in a divorce decree.
CNBC recommends that moms and dads identify their savings plan for college, such as any 529 plans. These funds could be specified as the first source of funding with parental input to follow. It is equally important that any agreements made do not focus on tuition alone as this is just one of many costs associated with going to a college or university. Parents should acknowledge that living expenses, travel costs, fees, books and even discretionary spending money will all be required by the student.
Some families might choose to have one parent responsible for tuition and the other parent responsible for additional costs. Other families may agree to split costs down the middle up to a certain threshold.
Financial aid may also contribute and Student Loan Hero explains that the person identified as the custodial parent on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form is the one whose income and assets will dictate what, if any aid the student qualifies for. This makes it important to be strategic about custody decisions as well.