A child is a lot of responsibility. They require a lot of attention and energy while they’re young, and a lot of planning and saving for when they’re older.
The stress of all this can be hard to manage, let alone dealing with it after a divorce. Just because you’re no longer with your spouse doesn’t mean you can’t work together to plan and prepare for the future of your kids, though.
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Together with your ex, you can set some things in place to guarantee your child a bright future. Here are the first three steps that will get you started:
- Get on the same page as your ex in terms of your kid’s future.
If you two are still arguing about what your children’s future will look like, it will be difficult to work towards an end goal. It’s crucial that everyone is on the same page as far as co-parenting goes so that additional conflicts don’t arise later down the road. Establish your agreed positioning by exploring the following questions:
Where do each of you stand on the idea of your children going to college? Maybe one parent is set on a higher education while the other sees flexibility in what they will choose to do after high school. Try to find common ground.
Do you expect your children to use loans to pay for their education, or will you plan to fund it? Many parents choose to have their child take on the financial responsibility of college, while others don’t. Financial aid is also something that should be considered. With a general game plan of the finances ahead of time, you’ll be better equipped to prepare.
What does your child want? While you may be determined to see your child graduates from college, they may not envision the same path. If your child is old enough, it’s smart to get their perspective on the situation.
- You can make their future a part of your separation agreement.
If you want to keep things black and white, adding a section about your children’s higher education into your separation agreement is the way to go. One option is allowing both parents to share access to the accounts while protecting the money from unnecessary use. In this case, it’s smart to also address immediate remedies and tax penalties that will occur if funds are irresponsibly withdrawn by either party.
If this is something you want included in your divorce documents, be sure to mention it to your attorney or mediator.
- You can continue with the plan you already had in place.
Did you and your ex already have a plan in place? Maybe you had college savings accounts (like the 529 plan) already started. In these cases, you can agree between yourselves to either continue contributing or preserve them in their current state for use later on. If you already thought ahead to your child’s future, you might be able to transition smoothly after divorce.
When both parties have the best interests of the kids in mind, there’s always a way to continue preparing them for a bright, successful future. If this is something that’s important to you, don’t hesitate to bring it up during your divorce mediation or collaborative divorce meetings.