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Negotiating education expenses in the divorce settlement

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2022 | Divorce

Maryland parents who end their marriage will need to negotiate a variety of matters related to the upbringing of their children as part of their divorce settlement. An important expense parents will need to contend with is related to educational costs and which parent will be responsible for paying for these. There are a variety of ways parents can address this as they negotiate so that they can avoid additional conflicts in the future, as the children grow and go on to higher education.

The costs of K-12 education

Parents of younger children might be first concerned with the costs of K-12 education, which can be significant even if the children attend public school. However, conflicts might arise if the children are already attending private schools or if one of the parents prefers for their child to attend private school. With private school tuition often running as much, if not more than college tuition, it can be a problematic subject between the parents. As part of their divorce settlement, parents need to reach an agreement on where their children will study and how any tuition and related costs will be paid, particularly what each parent’s contribution will be.

Planning for higher education

When it comes to higher education, parents do have several options for financially supporting their children’s education. These options include:

  • Planning ahead by opening a 529 plan to save for their child’s college expenses
  • Drafting an agreement with explicit terms about each parent’s contribution to the college expenses and the parent’s approval of the child’s choice of college
  • Agreeing on a plan that limits parents’ total contribution to the in-state public school tuition
  • Applying for financial aid once the child is accepted to college

Resolving the issue of who pays for educational expenses during the negotiations of the divorce settlement can prevent additional stress. It is important, however, to be clear about the expectations of each parent for the agreement to be followed.