If you find yourself in a divorce, you undoubtedly have a myriad questions floating around in your head:
- When will this process be over?
- What happens with our kids?
- When our assets are divided, will I get what I want?
- Which family members will pick sides?
- Will I be financially stable after?
- Should I push for spousal support or child support?
All of these questions are valid, and worth knowing the answers to, but there is also one very important question that often gets passed up: Who pays for college?
Florida law stipulates that parents have a legal obligation to provide support for their children. That includes food, shelter, clothing, various other necessities, and schooling. Of course, this legal obligation becomes null once a child is independent from its parents. This could be at the age of 18, after graduating high school, etc. If a child has a disability and is unable to support themselves, the law will recognize that and allow an exception, but for most parents, dependency ends when the child is at or around age 18.
Naturally, a legal obligation is not the only thing tying parents to their children, and parents often want to be able to provide a college education for their kids as well. This can be difficult for single parents who suddenly find they’re not receiving child support payments any longer. College can be a massive expense, and facing it alone can be daunting.
This example is one strong argument in favor of collaboration.
While it might somehow be possible to get a court order requiring child support throughout college, it is far easier and far more reasonable to simply sit down with your soon-to-be-ex spouse and discuss the child’s college plans. It doesn’t matter if the child is about to graduate high school, or if they’re 7; college will be in the future, and it will be a huge expense. If you can get a plan ironed out before the last minute, everyone will be happier, and everything will be much less stressful.
It might be tricky to come to a collaborative financial agreement in the middle of such a tumultuous experience, but every parent wants what is best for their child, and it would be hard to argue that college isn’t a good thing to push for.
There may not be a one-and-done solution to this problem, but if you sit down and talk with your attorney about your desires, and if possible, sit down with your spouse to discuss the same things, you may find an easy solution appear that all can be happy with.