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Planning for college as part of your divorce proceeding

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As a parent, you want to give your child the best possible future. Typically, that includes a healthy childhood and as much education as your child's profession would require. That could mean living in a certain school district to ensure your child has a competitive education. It could also mean saving for college before your child even starts school.

For a wide range of professions, college is a necessity even for entry-level work. If your child hopes to have a profession that demands a four-year degree or more, the cost of college likely weighs on your mind. Even before you decided to divorce, paying for college may have been a source of financial stress for you and your ex.

Now that you plan to divorce, there is likely even more financial concern about how to fund the education of your children and offer them a good future. It's important for you to understand what obligations you will have, either as the primary custodial parent or the parent paying child support.

Maryland child support obligations typically end at age 18

Understanding how Maryland handles child support can help you make better decisions when designing your parenting plan as part of your custody proceedings in your divorce. Child support typically will not include the cost of college unless you have a prenuptial agreement that specifically allocates college expenses or a portion of them to each spouse in the event of a divorce.

Child support typically ends at 18, unless the child is still in high school. In that case, it will last until the child finishes school or turns 19. The courts are unlikely to include college expenses in a child support plan, although state lawmakers have attempted to change that and may attempt again in the future.

College costs will far exceed what minimum amount of support the courts order, even if you start putting much of that support away for future college expenses. If you want to ensure that you can finance college costs, you will probably need to work with your ex to devise a plan for handling those expenses.

You can include college in your parenting plan

If you and your spouse are both on the same page about the necessity of college for your children's future, then negotiating terms to split the costs of college should be part of your parenting plan, even if it is not part of the custody agreement.

Your parenting plan can include details about everything from your discipline methods to your preferences on after school activities and curfew. Having both parents on the same page makes consistent parenting after a divorce easier. Including plans for college in your parenting plan, regardless of the age of your child, is a good decision.

So long as the two of you can reach terms that you find mutually agreeable, both of you can assuage your concerns about the expense of college. Put the needs of your child first by including college expenses and how you intend to pay for them in your parenting plan.

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