As parents, we often go to great lengths to plan for our families’ futures. We invest money, we save, and we budget. When it comes to planning for our children’s futures, the American Dream involves providing them with opportunities we never had. This means putting our children through college. Unfortunately, separation and divorce can throw a giant monkey wrench into these plans.
Separations Are Expensive
In order to be considered legally separated for purposes of an absolute divorce, a couple must be living “separate and apart”. This means that the spouses cannot be living in the same home, or in separated bedrooms. Instead, they must be living in separate residences. What this means for budgeting purposes is that the family’s overall income is now paying for a mortgage on the family home as well as rent for an apartment or second home where the other spouse will live. In addition, when couples separate, the law favors child support and spousal support payments that: (1) continue to pay the bills; (2) provide for the children’s needs; and (3) allow each spouse to continue at their former standard of living.
Overall, separation can have a tremendous negative impact on a family’s budget and savings. And because separations are often turbulent times, it is easy to lose focus on our financial priorities and goals. Despite this, your child’s college education does not have to be a casualty of your separation.
A Separation Agreement Can Bring Certainty
A separation agreement is a legally enforceable contract between spouses to settle financial and custodial issues during the separation timeframe. One provision that parents with older children will sometimes negotiate is college expenses. This agreement can encompass exactly who will pay the college expenses, how much, how it will be used, and for how long.
Reaching an agreement is easier said than done, because college is expensive. It is therefore necessary to get on the same page as to what kind of college will be paid for. In-state or out of state? Public college or private college? Will books, lodging, and other living expenses be included? While difficult and sometimes contentious, an agreement is possible. The key is to remain focused on your shared dream for your children.
New Direction Family Law
If you are interested in negotiating a separation agreement, contact New Direction Family Law. We are dedicated to helping clients in all areas of family law. We understand that this is an uncertain time and will use every tool at our disposal to guide your toward a more certain future. Call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment, or visit our website. We serve Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties.
Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law