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Protecting a college-bound minor child during a divorce

One of the reasons that divorce can be so hard for a family is that it often drastically alters the financial circumstances of each of a child’s parents. Divorce also tends to have a negative impact on the mental health of the children in a family and can even affect their academic performance.

Those considering divorce when they have children in middle school or high school who plan to go to college may worry that the end of their marriage could reduce the likelihood of their child pursuing an education. How can those preparing for divorce with a college-bound family member help ensure their child gets the education they require?

They can talk about college financing during the divorce

Child support in Illinois will not last through the college years. Typically, support ends when a young adult becomes a legal adult or graduates from high school. However, parents can have their own agreement in place regarding how they will cover the costs of college. The income of both parents will affect a child’s eligibility for federal financial aid even after a divorce, so both parents can and arguably should play a role in preparing to cover a young adult’s college expenses. Parents who address how they will cover tuition, housing and even textbooks ahead of time will be better prepared to defray those major expenses when their teenager leaves home for school.

They can ensure the children receive emotional support

Few things will derail a child’s college dreams more quickly than a sudden dip in academic performance. Especially if they are already in high school, the depression and other emotional responses the teenager has to their parents’ divorce could decrease their likelihood of securing admission to their top school choices. Even if they can still get into college, a slump in performance could also impact their eligibility for different forms of financial aid, including school-run and private scholarship programs. Parents who are proactive about offering emotional support to children during the divorce could help stave off some of the worst behavioral issues reported when parents separate, including a sudden drop in grades and school engagement.

Thinking ahead to what the children may need can help those preparing for divorce reduce the damage that this change to their relationship will cause the family overall.