Planning for a child’s college education can seem difficult and out of reach for Ohio parents, a problem that can be magnified in the case of divorce. University fees rise each year; in fact, the College Board estimates that the cost of attending college rises annually by 3 percent, an amount that can make a significant difference when dealing with tens of thousands of dollars in tuition and fees. While parents may work to develop a plan for their child’s education, it is very rare for such a plan to include contingencies in the case of divorce.
While around 40 percent of marriages across the country end in divorce, over two-thirds of married couples do not have a financial plan in case of divorce or widowhood. Of course, college expenses can be a major part of a financial plan for any family with children looking forward to future university attendance. Including tuition, fees and room and board, annual costs to attend a private university are an average of $46,950, while the same costs at a public university are $20,770 each year.
Some parents may focus on saving for their children’s education with a 529 plan, a type of savings account that allows tax-free accruals and withdrawals, so long as the withdrawals serve a bona fide educational purpose. Because these funds are already earmarked for education, a plan for them can be included in the divorce agreement. In some cases, parents may split the 529 account, while in others they can jointly control the one account.
Parents who are considering divorce may be concerned about how to address higher education costs within negotiations or the divorce settlement. A family law attorney might be able to work with a divorcing spouse to represent their interests and obtain a just settlement on a range of matters, including asset division and support expenses.