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For Georgia parents, divorce is the time to talk about college

Divorcing couples who have children must work out details of custody and support during their split. However, there is another important issue that many Georgia parents overlook during the divorce proceedings. Sooner or later, their children may want to go to college, and it may be helpful to discuss the financial arrangements for that during the divorce. One or both parents may experience a change in their financial circumstances as time goes on, but laying the groundwork now may make a difference if the issue needs to be renegotiated later.

To avoid any misunderstandings down the road about how the pay for college, divorcing couples may consider working out the details with the assistance of a third party. Doing this may prevent a situation in which one parent is stuck footing the entire bill later on. In addition, parents who have college funds for their children may find it beneficial to protect those assets from divorce. One way to do this is through a tax-free 529 plan. Both parents can make deposits to this account even after the divorce is final.

Financial aid is another issue that divorced parents face. It is typically the custodial parent's financial information that goes on the FAFSA. If custody is split equally, the parent who earns the least should include his or her financial information on the form.

Divorce can be emotionally charged and contentious, but Georgia parents may find it more helpful in the long run to do what they can to help the process go as smoothly and inexpensively as possible. This may allow each of them to have more funds for their children's college education. Even if the children are very young and college is years away, planning ahead may save everyone a lot of stress and hardship when it's time to pay tuition.

Source: Reuters, CORRECTED-YOUR MONEY-Three things divorced parents need to know about college, Geoff Williams, March 3, 2014

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