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Impact of Separation and Divorce on Paying for College

Diploma and Cap.jpgThough college has always been expensive, the amount of money needed nowadays is bordering on ridiculous. According to U.S. News and World report, the average tuition for a private university now exceeds $35,000 per year while kids in public schools can expect to pay almost $20,000. With costs so high it is no wonder that parents have difficulty affording putting their children through school. Unfortunately, the children of divorced parents are often the hardest hit, making a bad situation even worse.

One case that recently made the news highlighted the extent of the problem. Dana Soderberg, a young woman in Connecticut, filed suit against her father for his failure to pay her college tuition. Her parents were divorce back in 2004 while she was attending college. Her father signed a contract with Soderberg saying he would agree to finance her education until she was 25 so long as she diligently attended class. During her senior year her father stopped paying and his daughter slapped him with a lawsuit. The judge sided with the daughter, awarding her $47,000 plus attorney’s fees.

Thankfully it’s very rare for a legal dispute to rise to such a level. Typically, when a parent falls behind thing are worked out long before a lawsuit becomes necessary. However, the suit does point out a larger problem that disproportionately affects the children of divorced parents.


According to a study published in 2010 by professors at Rice University and the University of Wisconsin, children whose parents get divorced get less financial help with college, even if their parents remarry. The study indicates that parents who stay married cover an average of 77% of their child’s tuition and contribute a total of about eight percent of their incomes to tuition. However, divorced parents only cover an average of 42% of their child’s tuition while contributing six percent of their incomes.

If you’re a parent going through a divorce, you should discuss the issue of future college costs with your attorney now and come to terms with the issue now rather than later when it could stir up additional problems for the family.

If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce in Charlotte, it is best to contact experienced equitable distribution lawyers in Charlotte, North Carolina like those at Arnold & Smith, PLLC who can help guide you through the often difficult process.

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