When a marriage or relationship ends, both sides must make adjustments to their lifestyle and personal situations. One of the most important parts of this process is taking into account child support. In New Jersey, as in all states, these payments can factor in health care coverage and medical expenses, as well as everyday expenses like school supplies. However, one factor that is commonly overlooked is the children’s opportunities for a college education.

Many parents do not consider negotiating a plan for college tuition when they separate from their partner. The reasons for this vary, from young children being a long way off from college to expectations that a relationship with an ex will endure long enough to work out these costs at a later date. However, these types of assumptions and oversights can create a financial burden down the road, and there is the potential for one parent to be saddled with all of a child’s college expenses.

Establishing financial expectations for college payments at the same time as child support payments creates a safety net. It can also ensure that money set aside for tuition remains useful for that purpose. For example, establishing a joint 529 account between both parents can keep this money secure and help children receive a suitable education.

The divorce process is difficult on children of all ages, though it shouldn’t compromise their safety, well-being and educational needs. Understanding New Jersey law and working to establish a suitable child support structure can ensure that children maintain opportunities to enjoy a healthy and successful life. In order to maximize this potential, parents may not want to overlook the need to establish a plan for paying college tuition.

Source: Reuters, “Three things divorced parents need to know about college,” Geoff Williams, March 3, 2014