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Dealing with higher education costs during divorce

Minnesota parents often wonder how they will manage paying for their children's higher education. The costs are already high, and they continue to rise. In fact, the College Board notes that there is an increase of approximately 3 percent in the cost of college attendance each year. On average, the cost for one year of tuition, fees and room and board at a private university is $46,950, while the same annual cost at a public in-state university is $20,770.

The financial strain can be exacerbated after parents divorce. Divorce is common - approximately 40 percent of marriages come to an end - but also financially draining. The cost of setting up two households from one can be significant, and court orders prioritize child support and spousal support above other types of expenses. This means that divorcing parents may need to think about new plans for how to fund their children's education.

DCollege education savings and responsibilities can be dealt with as part of the divorce settlement. For example, many parents with 529 educational savings accounts address them during divorce negotiations. These accounts allow tax-free savings and withdrawals so long as they go to benefit specific educational expenses. While one parent is usually the named owner, the accounts can be divided during a divorce or both parents can share oversight of a single account, with a specific agreement for the use of the funds.

Higher education savings and costs are one of many financial issues that parents will need to consider during the divorce negotiations process. A family law attorney can help prepare a settlement agreement that a judge will approve.

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