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Don't neglect college education during a divorce

During divorces in Forth Worth, Texas, and elsewhere, financing college education sometimes gets put on a back burner. This is not surprising as other issues may require more immediate attention. But with planning, financing the children's college education doesn't need to fall by the wayside.

Divorce often causes a temporary financial setback for both parties. In many cases, two incomes were used to finance one household. After a divorce, two separate households need to be supported. It will take an adjustment period for the ex-spouses' financial conditions to stabilize.

Nonetheless, the time to address the issue of higher education is during the divorce proceedings. Some jurisdictions provide for the payment of child support during a child's college years, and others do not. However, most courts will enforce a prior agreement to provide for college expenses that were made during the divorce proceedings.

All parents with minor children should create a 529 account or other college savings program. Its funding can be set forth in the property settlement agreement or divorce decree. Doing so provides the obligation, force and effect of a court order.

If financial circumstances do not permit current funding, payments can be deferred. At the time the issue is on the table, the divorcing party should seek the advice of a financial planner to determine the best route to proceed.

College education funding is one of the items a client should discuss with his or her divorce attorney and request that it be a property settlement issue. This is especially true in a jurisdiction that does not permit child support after the age of majority is reached. If the issue is not addressed during the divorce, it may be too late to return to court and ask for college funding for the children.

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