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College planning can be part of child custody agreements

New York parents of who are going through a divorce and want some form of joint custody have to plan for visitation schedules, pick-ups and drop-offs and all the logistics that go with raising children after a divorce. However, a child custody agreement should also look forward to a time when the children are growing up and more independent. This includes planning for college.

It's always a good idea to start saving money for college tuition as early as possible, but it can be difficult to do that during the process of divorce and dividing marital property. What New York parents can do during the process of negotiating a child custody agreement is to come up with a plan for how the parents will divide the costs of tuition when it becomes necessary.

This is no small concern. College costs are rising all the time. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition and other costs at state colleges now averages more than $14,000 a year. Private nonprofit colleges average more than $37,000 a year and the most selective institutions can be even more expensive.

Given these high costs, many families apply for federal financial aid to help pay a student's way through college. One thing divorcing parents should know about this process is that, for the most part, eligibility for financial aid is determined according to the income and assets of the household where the child has been spending the most time. This means that when the parent who has primary custody remarries, the new spouse's income and assets can make the student ineligible for financial aid.

Many things can change for family members between the time when parents first agree to a child custody arrangement and the time when the children go off to college. Parents may have to modify their agreements to suit changing circumstances. However, New York attorneys with experience in family law know it's always a good idea to take a long view of parenthood when negotiating the terms of child custody.

Source: Forbes.com, "What Divorcing Women Need To Know About College Financial Aid For Their Children," Jeff Landers, May 1, 2014

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