College is one of the top reasons clients come to see us for post-divorce mediation. Their original divorce decree, which was not done through Westfield Mediation, LLC, with our divorce mediators, does not mention their child’s college education and now the time has come and they are in disagreement about expectations and costs. If clients do not have anything written about their children’s college plans and costs written into the divorce agreement, they run the risk of doing more/paying more than they may have decided upon at the time of their divorce. During the course of divorce mediation, the divorce mediator can provide options to help both parties come to a general agreement about expectations each has of the other and from their child. Then down the road when reality hits you have a framework to abide by and guide you. Some couples may want to tweak their original agreement depending on their actual circumstances and not the projection they made 13 years ago when they got divorced and their child was 4 years old. But at least they have a baseline to work from and do not have to pull something out of thin air. Maybe each parent agreed to pay x amount each year towards the costs of higher education but one party got a new, high-paying job a few years ago and wants to go over and above the agreed upon amount so their child will have fewer student loans or no loans at all. Great! But what if each agreed to pay 25% and that is all each can pay. You are protected from one parent suing the other parent, the child suing a parent, etc. because of your written agreement. If there is no agreement then there may be more court involvement. Yikes!
The divorce mediators at Westfield Mediation always bring up the issue of post-high school education plans with every couple who have children, regardless of their current age. We acknowledge the absurdity of discussing college plans for your preschooler during your divorce, but also warn about the pitfalls of not doing so.
For more information about divorce mediation, please contact Randi M. Albert, JD, or Michelle Weinberg, M.Ed., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, at Westfield Mediation, LLC, at 908.913.0373. View our website at www.westfieldnjmediation.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org