Most couples with children have no structured college savings plans set up. This is even more so after divorce proceedings commence. There are so many complex issues to discuss that college planning for the children takes a back seat to everything else. Things such as, “We’ll work it out when the time comes” or “We’ll set something up after the divorce, when things calm down”. As a divorce mediator, I cringe inside when I hear couples utter these phrases. Even the most well intended couples don’t follow through with these statements. Chances are, if something structured isn’t worked out in the divorce agreement, there’s a good chance nothing will get done and there will be heated post-decree arguments, court dates and legal fees when it comes time to pay for college.

Whether your child is 6 months or 16 years old, plans need to be made now for their college education. Pushing these decisions to a later date is not in your children’s best interests now and especially later when they have no money for college. As part of any divorce involving children, family oriented divorce and financial professionals will make sure that some sort of plan is put together. They will help both of you to implement a plan that works for both of you and benefits your children the most.

One major question divorcing couples have when discussing college planning as part if their divorce is, “Where is the money going to come from to fund a college savings plan?” This is an excellent question without easy answers. Couples have to stretch their money very far during and after a divorce, and since money doesn’t usually grow on trees, funding is an issue.

As a divorce mediator working with families a majority of the time, I have a few suggestions as how to “find” the extra money needed for your children’s college planning. They are not surefire but simply a step in the right direction.

Claiming of the children – chances are that when you were married, you filed joint tax returns. Once you are divorced, you will file individual tax returns. Your income, tax bracket and who claims the children in a given year can have a decent sized positive impact on each of your individual tax returns, making your combined individual tax returns greater than you married combined ones. I suggest speaking with an accountant who is experienced in divorce and divorce law. The extra money you receive as individuals can go right into a college savings plan.

Author's Bio: 

Brian James is a mediator with C.E.L. and Associates, a mediation, therapy, and coaching services firm with offices throughout Chicagoland and Southeastern Wisconsin. Learn more about the advantages of mediation and co mediation in Illinois for divorce at celandassociates.com. Visit our blog for information tips, trends, and advice on mediation and divorce at http://www.celandassociates.com/blog/.