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New York divorce: Don't forget the kids' college education

With so many issues to deal with when negotiating a settlement in a divorce, many people may inadvertently over look planning for college for the couple's children. For New York couples whose children are still relatively young when the couple gets a divorce, the topic of college may be the furthest thing from the parties' minds. However, taking the time to do a little advance preparation during the divorce process can at least establish a framework.

The divorce settlement can at least loosely outline how the couple is going to plan for each child's college. If the couple has already started a college fund such as a 529 plan, that fund can be frozen to prevent either party from making any unauthorized withdrawals. Then each party can agree how much to contribute to the plan each year and how to structure the plan.

In the alternative, it is possible for the court to split an already established 529 account between the parties. Then the parties will only need to agree on how much each party will contribute to the fund each year. However the parties decide to do things, it may be a good idea to include those decisions in the divorce settlement.

Regardless of the fact that the couple will no longer be married, they will continue to be parents long after the divorce if final. Putting together a plan for college during the divorce no matter how young the children are may make things easier for both parents in the future. After all, who knows just how much it will cost to attend a New York university in the future.

Source: US News and World Report, "Discuss College Savings During Divorce Process," Reyna Gobel, April 29, 2013