Part 2 of our College Expenses Series. You can find Part I
Sometimes you don’t just shed tears when your kids leave for school.
When you look in your bank account, you may cry a bit after you pay your
share of college expenses. Planning ahead can minimize the financial burden
on you and make it all about your child and their new experience. Here
are the second group of five questions to know answers to this season,
which we discuss on this week’s edition of the Divorce Duo (Daily
at 8:00 a.m., right after the news, on
How does the college selection process work? It’s important you ensure that the other parent is being included
in the college selection process as this is often the basis for arguments
about whether the excluded parent should be required to contribute. The
college selection process ideally should be focused on selecting the best
school that will serve the child’s best interests but also be affordable
to both parents, taking into consideration any scholarships and financial
aid the child may be receiving to assist in defraying the cost. This is
dependent on the particular circumstances of your family.
How does financial aid factor into college expenses? Most people agree that the parents’ respective contributions apply
only to the amount remaining after the child’s financial aid is
applied. This generally include grants and guaranteed student loans applied
for by virtue of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
We discussed this in great detail on this week’s Divorce Duo radio
show (daily at 8:00 a.m. on www.panjradio.com).
What if one parent is alienated from the child? These situations are very rare but they do happen. In order for an argument
like this to be successful, it’s essential that the alienated parent
not be absent due to his or her own volition. This means that despite
his or her efforts to have a continuing relationship with the child, the
parent has been successfully barred from the child’s life, usually
due to the interference of the other parent. This requires a fact-sensitive
analysis of the history of your case and is a very difficult burden to meet.
When are my payments toward college expenses finally done? This is often defined by your settlement agreement, but in most cases,
the child is given four years (sometimes five, if that is written in your
agreement), or sometimes until a certain age (such as age 23). So long
as the child is diligently pursuing his or her education, receiving passing
grades, and attending on a full-time basis according to the curriculum,
the child will be emancipated upon graduation from undergraduate college.
There are exceptions to this so it’s important to review your settlement
agreement or consult with an attorney about your case if are concerned
about paying longer than that.
What happens if we cannot reach an agreement? This goes back to our blog from
yesterday and why we suggested that you start this dialogue now. If you can’t
reach an agreement, usually the one seeking a contribution from the other
parent will need to file a motion. It generally takes four weeks (at least)
to get before a judge when you file a motion. In most cases, the court
cannot determine how much each parent should pay with a motion. It usually
is transferred for further proceedings, which can take months. That means
if you file your motion today, you will likely take 4-8 months (or more)
to litigate the issue in the court system. If you settle, then great!
You’re done, but what if you don’t? Get started now!
If you need help trying to figure out any aspect of this process and how
any of these suggestions apply to you, call us at (732) 479-4711 for
a consultation. We’re here to help. Remember, we won’t tell
you what you want to hear….We tell you what you need to know!