Divorce takes a huge toll on all parties involved. Not only is it an emotionally devastating process, it requires the couple to completely deconstruct the life they built together. In doing so, they must physically move out of the home, separate all of their assets, and, if they have children together, balance the time their children spend with each individual parent.
The statute in Illinois governing divorce is the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. It directly addresses the issue of divorce by setting up guidelines for when a judge will or will not get involved in overseeing the terms of the divorce. If possible, the Court will rely on the parties themselves to come to a mutual agreement on the terms of their divorce, either by negotiating through attorneys who specialize in family law matters or through some form of mediation. If the couple has children, the court is more likely to intervene to protect the interests of the child.
Planning For Future Events
In many divorce agreements, not much thought is put into planning for future costs and expenses. One future cost that parents often fail to address in their divorce agreements is the college tuition of their children.
Once a child turns 18, parents are no longer legally obligated to provide them child support. However, in most cases, parents customarily provide some, if not all, financial support to pay for a child’s college education.
The majority of states do not require parents to pay for higher education. However, if the payments are directly laid out in a divorce agreement, the courts are likely to enforce the terms of the contract and require a parent to pay. Many states make a distinction between enforcing divorced parents to pay versus enforcing married couples to pay.
What can you do to plan for future tuition costs?
Divorce costs can hurt both parties financially, and creating a long-term payment plan may help to reduce the anxiety each party feels about their uncertain financial futures.
When couples are negotiating the terms of their divorce, part of the conversation that needs to take place is what obligations, if any, will they have financially to their children once the child support payments cease and the child is legally an adult. Of course, financial circumstances can change and the divorced parents can always modify their rights at a later date if necessary.
Put Away Money Now
Although it may sound very premature, setting aside money for college when children are still young is a very sound and practical plan. Even if it means setting aside a small lump sum once a week or once a month from one’s paycheck, those small numbers add up over the years. If you have managed to set aside money for your child’s college expenses, make sure the money cannot be accessed for anything else except your child's education.
Who will provide financial aid?
For divorced families, the issue of financial aid is another one that must be addressed head on. To determine what amount of aid a student may receive, colleges rely on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process. The FAFSA forms only look at the income of the parent the child lives with the most. If parents have joint custody of their child, the parent with the lower income should fill out the FAFSA forms so that they will qualify for more student aid.
If you are contemplating divorce and need advice about planning ahead, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced Wheaton Family Lawyers today. We can advise you on how to prepare for the future, and help you begin the divorce process immediately.