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Parents should consider college costs in child support settlements

For Pittsburgh parents going through a divorce, matters of child support are an important part of the process. These agreements often focus on child support needs for the near future, especially for parents of young children, while possibly glossing over support needs of the distant future. One of the most troubling of these future costs is college, which can cause problems for both sides of the family.

In a recent case, a child of divorced parents sued her father for failing to pay her college tuition. In her situation, her parents divorced while she was in college pursuing her degree. She believed there was a chance that her father would eventually fail to pay her tuition and had him sign a contract agreeing that he would pay until she was 25. In return for his help with tuition, she agreed to faithfully pursue scholarships and financial aid. During her senior year, her father stopped paying tuition and she sued, winning $47,000 plus attorney costs.

While most divorced parents will likely not deal with a situation so extreme, college costs can be a huge burden for these families. In fact children of divorced parents can expect an average of 42 percent of their college costs to be covered by their parents, as compared to children of non-divorced parents who can expect 77 percent. Even married parents have a hard time financing their children's education, so without two parents assisting with college costs, the difficulty can rise, especially if they are without the support of their former spouse.

For divorcing parents in Pittsburgh, these potential financial problems may be lessened by discussing future college costs as a part of a child support settlement. Building an agreement for covering these costs from the beginning will require a support-paying parent to uphold their responsibilities to their children even through that child's college experience. It can also potentially reduce possible future litigation between former spouses who have to go back to court to set up new agreements covering these costs after the fact.

Source: turnto23.com, "Cost Of College A Burden For Children Of Divorce," Ed Greenberger, June 25, 2012

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