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Divorce and college planning

Divorce raises a number of challenging topics for families. From property division to child custody and everything in between it can be a very confusing and emotional time for everyone. Parents going through a divorce may want to keep in mind some issues that relate to college funding.

First, if a 529 college savings plan has been set up for the children it is important to look at who owns the account and who will own it after the divorce. If the account was set up jointly the parents will have to decide who will assume individual control over the account. The account can also be frozen or split. If one person remains on the account that will be the only person who can make changes. It can be advantageous for the noncustodial parent to keep the account, because the noncustodial parent's income is not generally included on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

The second question is who will claim the child as a dependent for tax purposes when the child is in college. Whoever claims the child as a dependent will be eligible for the college credits from the IRS. But if the parent makes over approximately $180,000 each year they will not qualify for the college credits.

Finally, college funding may be a factor to consider in deciding who will have custody of the children. The custody arrangement can have implications for financial aid. The noncustodial parent's finances are generally not considered on the FAFSA. Over a third of colleges request additional financial information, however, including the income from both parents.

College funding is one of many issues that must be taken into account in a divorce mediation. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help a parent make the best decisions for the children's future.

Source: usnews.com, "3 important college funding questions to answer during a divorce", Andrea Williams, Aug. 19, 2015

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

She will take the time to understand your individual needs and develop a comprehensive solution to protect your rights and interests.

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