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Understanding how higher education can factor into a divorce

Given that costs relating to higher education can reach astronomical heights, the investment of obtaining a degree or certificate should always be seriously considered in the light of whether or not it is affordable. Higher education expenses play a significant role in family finances in the state of Illinois and beyond, and are also known to be a major factor in many divorce cases. It’s for that reason that anyone facing the prospect of divorce should seek sound legal counsel to determine whether or not higher education bills incurred by the individual, their spouse or their child may be presented in their divorce settlement.

When considering the expenses incurred from going to school for a college degree, several factors may play a role in how that money is addressed in the divorce settlement. For instance, the monetary value of the degree itself may be figured in; though, the practice of deciding the value and then determining how to split it is not standardized. Beyond that, it may come down to whether or not one spouse contributed financially to the other’s education and/or supported them financially during their schooling. If this is the case, that level of financial support may be factored into decisions regarding spousal support.

Similarly, parents approaching the divorce process should consider their role in paying for their children’s college education. If the child is not emancipated for whatever reason, both parents may be responsible for his or her needs and expenses. That is why any divorce agreement that specifies details concerning the higher education costs of children should be outlined clearly by an experienced attorney. Once the agreement is settled upon by both parties and the court, it can be increasingly difficult to make changes to it later on. 

Source: Huffington Post, “Divorce Settlements and Higher Education,” Brad Reid, March 11, 2014

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