The struggle is real.
It should come as no surprise that in most divorce cases, paying for college after divorce becomes a challenge for both parents. In fact, a study published by the Journal of Family Issues found that divorced parents contribute about one third of what married parents contribute.
The truth is, students with divorced parents face a greater burden in financing everything; from their first car to a college education to flowers for their prom date…usually finances aren’t what they were before. The reality is that there is often less to go around now that many expenses, like heating bills, are double the amount they were during marriage.
Children must also decide who they should hit up for the money when they need it. Do I ask Mom or Dad? (The really smart ones will ask Mom and Dad in the hope they can collect from both and double their take.)
Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
I was once contacted by a journalist “seeking a student with divorced or remarried parents to comment on how their parents’ marital status has affected their college education and finances during college.” The writer wanted to ask, “Did your parents’ divorce really cause them to contribute less to your education, whether directly or indirectly?”
The kid doesn’t know what they don’t know and it should stay that way. My hope is that all parents will let their kids know they are doing their best to help in every way they can and leave it at that. No child will benefit from knowing that Dad “can’t pay for all of tuition this year because he has to pay Mom Spousal Support.”
Should you even be paying for college???
My advice to all parents is to pay yourself first. Do not even consider paying your kid’s tuition until you have maxed out all available tax deferred retirement vehicles.
Your kids can get loans at fairly favorable terms and may even get scholarships and grants they will never have to pay back. No one will give you loans to pay for your retirement and you certainly aren’t going to be getting any scholarships to your local country club. For those who absolutely must limit the amount of work your child takes on (outside of being a student), please at least have them work during their summers off.
Need help figuring out college funding with your ex or soon-to-be-ex spouse? Wellspring Divorce Advisors are here to help answer your questions and get you on the right path! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 858-523-8249.