Janet L. Goehle, Attorney at Law
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Divorce and college funds

One topic that often comes up during divorce in Minnesota is college funds. Since the situation involves the redistribution of marital assets, property and even child custody, careful consideration must be given to what happens to any savings and funds parents have set aside for their children’s future education.

According to Forbes, divorcing couples should discuss their children’s financial college accounts with a professional advisor who can offer them guidance on their options. Former spouses should work out an agreement that specifies how the money is to be saved and used. Careful consideration should be given as to which parent has access to the accounts as well.

The key to keeping the kids’ college funds intact and divorce-proof is for ex-spouses to establish clear lines of communication before the divorce is finalized, states US News. Parents should also discuss college with their kids and give them a list of colleges to consider. They should also set goals and work towards them.

If there is a 529 plan in place and there are concerns about one parent seizing complete control of the children’s education funds, then the other parent can always petition the judge to split it. Splitting a college fund like the 529 plan enables each parent to maintain a portion of the funds. It also allows them to contribute to them as needed,

Another option is to have the college funds frozen. Once frozen, the only withdrawals that can occur are those that are for the named child on the account. All other withdrawals and contributions must stop. Freezing should be considered as a last resort because it restricts the parents’ ability to use the college savings in that account for any other child and means.

Matters involving college funds and divorce can be quite complicated. Divorcing parents should put their personal differences aside and consider discussing the situation and creating a good plan that protects their children’s college funds.

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