This is an important debate.
Parents can either ask or offer to pay for college as part of a divorce settlement. However, in divorce, a commitment to pay for college is a negotiating point, not a legal requirement (as some may think). Should it be? I’m not sure. That’s where there’s room for debate.
Here’s my thought. If a married couple doesn’t enter into a legal agreement to pay for college, why should a divorced couple have to enter into one? Married couples enter into a legal agreement. By marrying, they’ve agreed to abide by the family laws in their state and so they’ve agreed to support their children to age 18.
So therefore college spending, which typically happens after age 18, is first and foremost a moral commitment based on each parent’s values.
“You can borrow for college, but not for retirement”. Save yourself first and either financially support the child’s education, help your child get the aid they need, or let the child figure it out. Each parent has to use his or her own moral compass and, with some financial planning, decide how much he or she can afford.
Yes, it’s certainly unfair that you want to live more frugally to help pay for college but your ex doesn’t. I don’t have an answer for that. What I do know is that you can’t determine your ex spouses financial goals or make financial decisions for your ex. You have to move on based only on your own financial goals.
Investment advisory services offered through Robertson Stephens Wealth Management, LLC (“Robertson Stephens”), an SEC-registered investment advisor. This material is for general informational purposes only and is not tailored to the needs of any specific individual. Any discussion of U.S. tax matters should not be construed as tax-related advice. Please consult your personal tax advisor for more information. © 2020 Robertson Stephens Wealth Management, LLC. All rights reserved. Robertson Stephens is a registered trademark of Robertson Stephens Wealth Management, LLC in the United States and elsewhere.