Missouri parents: Include college costs in divorce settlements

While Missouri parents tend to focus on things like child custody and visitation schedules during a divorce, parents also need to be focusing on just how they are going to pay for their children’s college education in the future. Ideally, these conversations should be happening in order for the plan to be included in the divorce settlement. Essentially, the settlement will discuss how much each parent is going to be paying for college.

In some situations, married couples may have already started a 529 plan account. These accounts are an investment account favored for educational purposes. With these types of accounts, parents have options.

Some parents go the route of having a 529 account froze. What this means is no more money can be deposited or taken out of the account. The money that is already in it can also only be used for the designated child or children. Going this route ensures that the money will not be used by an ex-spouse for college for a child from a second marriage. Instead, the money in this account will stay going to the original intended recipient.

If there is concern over just one parent having control over a 529 account, a judge can also order for it to be split. This means that if there is $10,000 in an account, it would be split into two separate accounts with each parent in charge of one account having $5,000. These two separate accounts can also be used by each parent toward the overall amount each agrees to pay for college costs in their divorce settlement.

In the end, keep in mind that the obligations a parent signs up for now in a divorce settlement must be met in the future. This is why no part of the divorce process should be rushed. What seems like a good idea today may not be the best choice tomorrow. Rather, talk with a family law attorney in order to go over all the logistics of the divorce.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, “Discuss College Savings During Divorce Process,” Reyna Gobel, April 29, 2013

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