The decision to go through divorce and the decision to go to college impact many families. Among the concerns and challenges of going through either process are the financial constraints and difficulties that a family will face when trying to perform either objective. While you will not struggle to find news articles showing just how expensive colleges the same can likely be said about divorces. As a result, you may be skeptical about your family’s ability to complete either task. When talking about trying to get divorced and go to college at the same time that can be especially difficult.
From the outset of today’s blog post, I would like to be clear that I am in favor of taking out little to no debt to complete either process. I realize that this may not be a popular view it may not even be possible for some of you where you currently sit. I also realized that you can choose when and if you go back to college but you cannot necessarily choose when your child goes to college or when a divorce is something that confronts you and your family. In those situations, the best you can do is prepare as diligently as possible and two take whatever steps you can to minimize disruption to your family life.
In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, I would like to discuss with you my thoughts on how to pay for college while going through a divorce. As I alluded to a moment ago this is a conversation that hinges upon several different factors related to the type of divorce you will be getting as well as whether it is you or your child that will be going through college. All things being equal I think it is possible to make it through this process in one piece no matter if yours will be a long and drawn-out divorce or if the college education you are interested in will be a two-year, four-year, or even longer process.
Sometimes the divorce can wait and other times it cannot
If you find yourself served with divorce papers before you leave for work one day then you have the little option as far as proceeding with the divorce. Supposing that your spouse brings a divorce on you and your family completely out of the blue then it would probably appear that you have little option but to proceed with hiring an attorney and moving forward with the divorce. In this type of situation then you cannot adequately prepare, small likelihood, for the divorce. The best you can likely do is prepare as best you can and do what you can to protect your family and children.
Otherwise, if no divorce has been filed and your spouse is not immediately moving towards getting a divorce then you may be able to buy yourself some time before the case begins. First, I would look to whether or not counseling or therapy with a professional marriage counselor is a possibility. Many times I think people disregard the possibility of avoiding a divorce altogether as a means to decrease the cost of a divorce financially in your family. While your family may not be in a position to talk your way out of the problems in your marriage I would explore it as a possibility if nothing else.
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In that case, why not explore every Ave that you can in an attempt to avoid having to get divorced in the 1st place. You should know ahead of time getting therapy or going through counseling is not a permanent black mark against you. Rather, going through counseling, even just a few sessions of counseling, can be enough to help you develop the skills that you need to be able to talk to your spouse about your problems in an effective manner. Not all of us are born with or have developed the skills and communication abilities to talk with our spouses about our problems. Going to counseling can help you develop those skills in a relatively short period.
While you are going through divorce counseling you can choose to take the opportunity to consider your life after the divorce. This does not mean that you necessarily have to hedge your bets so to speak but it does mean that you can put some degree of preparation in place for a possible divorce. This may mean putting some money aside in the bank to be used for future counseling or even to pay for an attorney in the filing fees of a divorce.
Learning to save money is never a bad thing period you may find that learning to save money could help you solve some financial problems that you are experiencing in your marriage and could lead you more readily towards reconciliation with your spouse especially if the problems in your marriage are based on is she’s related to finances or even financial infidelity. Again, you know your family circumstances much better than I do. But if you think that counseling or therapy could help you solve the major issues in your relationship then you should explore that with as much energy as you can.
Another way that you can work to set yourself up for a less costly entrance into your divorce is to prepare for the divorce ahead of time. This could be a mindset that you have if you do not believe that marriage counseling or therapy will work for your family and you instead believe that divorce isn’t an inevitability. So long as conditions are not harmful to you or your children at home you can take the time to plan out your divorce by saving money, organizing documents, and generally laying out a game plan for your case before actually engaging with an attorney.
Meeting with an experienced family law attorney with the law office of Brian Fagan when you are beginning to determine the initial stages of your divorce can provide you with a great leg up when it’s time to begin the case. You can look for any opportunity that is available to you when it comes to getting together information that will be necessary for your divorce.
Performing a basic inventory of your property, beginning to collect financial documents like retirement account statements, health insurance paperwork in other documents can provide you with an advantage when it is time for your divorce to begin. Remember that any work you can perform on your own without an attorney can and will save you money. Any work that you save for the time after you hire a lawyer will be performed in all likelihood by the attorney and their staff. This can cost you money and time.
Instead of allowing the attorney to dictate the work that has to be done in your case you can perform these steps yourself and save yourself any attorney some effort down the line in your case.
Who is going to college: you or your child?
Another important question to consider regarding paying for college during a divorce is which person in your family is needing the college education. An additional question that you can ask yourself is whether or not the person needs to go to college or whether or not it is more or less a want at this stage. As with many things, a need should be attacked as early as you can in a family scenario. Whereas, I want may need to take a back seat to take care of those things that are actual needs.
Let’s assume that it is your child who is on the brink of going to college. In that case, you will have hopefully had discussions with him or her about an important subject called college choice. While my children are too young to be discussing this with I imagine that many of you are at the stage where your kids are starting to talk to you about an interest in going to college and where they would like to go to school. In that case, you should take the opportunity to discuss with them the important role of being able to determine where they go to school in part based on the cost of the school. Of course, if you have the money to pay for their college at whatever school your child chooses then you may not need to have this discussion period at that point, where they can be accepted is the only factor that matters.
However, the fact that you are reading this blog post tells me that cost consideration are likely very important when it comes to deciding where your child will be going to school. As a result, you should be upfront with your child about the importance of this factor when determining where he or she can go to school. It goes without saying that if you are a resident of Texas then it would be far less expensive for your child to go to a public University in Texas than to a school in another state. While this may be obvious to you, your child and their teachers and guidance counselors may have skimmed over this point. After all, it is only your money that is of concern. Child’s teachers and guidance counselors may be less concerned about cost and more concerned about other factors.
As a result, you need to be the adult in your child’s life to bring up his consideration and make sure that they are aware that this is a factor that will weigh heavily on which school they can go to they can attend Simply put if you lack the cash in hand or in a bank account to pay for a certain University your child should not be attending. This applies twice as much to a situation where you are also going through a divorce at the same time. Money is tight at home you cannot afford to be spending excess money on an education for your child that could be earned elsewhere at a much cheaper price point.
Consider, for a moment, how many times in your professional life someone has asked you where you attended college or University. I am willing to bet you that the vast majority of times anyone has asked you this question he was more or less to make conversation or two just find out more about you. It is very unlikely that in most professional situations that where you attended school makes a big difference to a person one way or the other. Rather, where you attended school matters much less than what you learned while you were at that school. The value of the degree is not impacted disproportionately based on how much Ivy is on the wall about a particular college.
The other issue to consider is whether you are the person who is currently attending college or is planning on going back to school to earning a degree or complete a degree that was started some years ago. To be sure, there is a great deal of merit in deciding to attend college as an adult. The past 15 months have provided some degree of evidence that the more educated you are the more healthy you will be and the more likely you are to be able to avoid the ill effects of unforeseeable and potentially catastrophic situations like a global pandemic.
What the past year has also taught us is that it is easier to earn a degree now than ever before in the sense that you do not need to be physically present in a classroom to go to school. Evening, night, and online classes make college attendance much simpler and much more streamlined for working people. If you were earning a college degree and have had a divorce case thrust upon you then do you have some decisions about whether or not to continue your education or whether or not you need to take the resources that you had been applying to your education and reapply them towards a future divorce.
Without being able to look inside your wallet or bank account I cannot tell you what is the right decision for you and your family. Certainly, as with all things financial if you have the cash to do something then you are in a better position than if you were without the cash. You should ask yourself what are the future costs of completing a college education and what those costs mean in conjunction with the need to proceed with the divorce and the costs associated with hiring an attorney. If you believe you have the funds to do both at the same time then you could consider it. If not, you may again need to put your card education on hold until your divorce is completed.
The reality of going through a divorce is that it tends to engulf a majority of your free time. Between work commitments, family commitments and divorce commitments you are next 6 to 8 months may pretty well be spoken for. This does not mean that you don’t have the ability or time to get a divorce And complete your degree. However, what it does mean is that your time will be extremely tight if you choose to continue to move forward with both. If you need to maintain a certain grade point average to sustain a scholarship or grant, for instance, then you may want to reconsider a decision to move forward with the divorce and college education at the same time.
These are just my general thoughts on the subject. I cannot emphasize enough how your circumstances, ability and willingness to sacrifice your time in sleep, and the prognosis for your divorce all play crucial roles in determining the feasibility of moving forward with paying for College in a divorce simultaneously. Furthermore, if it is your child who will be going to college then that changes the equation completely.
My advice on where to start examining this scenario would be to get a firm grasp of how much money the college education will cost, how much time you will need to devote to completing your degree, and the likely costs of your divorce. When you have some solid numbers to start your analysis with you can begin to engage in some deep thinking about what is best for you and your family. Otherwise, there is nothing wrong with tapping the brakes on a college education if you are forced to begin a divorce sooner than you would like.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.