Planning for College During Divorce May Make Sense

When a divorce is over and done with and everything from alimony payments to child support has been sorted out, some individuals might feel as if the difficult part is out of the way. After all, other than ensuring that the correct parent claims the children on his or her taxes that year, that is pretty much it, right? Not so, if a Texas couple pursuing a divorce has children who are heading off to college.

With the cost of a college education soaring — roughly $14,300 at its cheapest and over $40,000 at its most expensive — paying for a highereducation can be a tremendous undertaking. Most college students and their families turn toward the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, in order to help with the overwhelming cost. However, the FAFSA must also be completed by a parent in the case of a dependent student. In the case of a student of divorced parents, the custodial parent must fill out the FAFSA.

In some instances, one parent may make substantially more than the other. When it comes to filing out the FAFSA, the custodial parent must have been the primary caregiver for the previous year from the date that the FAFSA is filed. This is to prevent custody being switched shortly before a FAFSA is filed in order to obtain better financial aid for a student. However, if the custodial parent remarries, his or her current spouse’s income and assets must also be included on the FAFSA application.

Barring extenuating circumstances, it is generally apparent who the custodial parent will continue to be for years to come. Since that person is the one responsible for filling out and filing the FAFSA, it may play a role in decisions over custody and division of parenting time. Even if the children involved are relatively young at the time of the divorce, planning ahead for the college years can enable a divorcing Texas couple to have a more clear and concise picture of a post-divorce life for both themselves and their children.

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