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How Will Your Divorce Affect Your Children’s Financial Aid Eligibility for College?

June 22, 2020

When you decide to divorce, one of the issues that occupies your mind is how your divorce will affect your children in the short term or long term. Will they be angry that you broke up the family they have known all their lives? When they grow up, will they be cynical about relationships and think that all marriages are doomed to fail? In many ways, the hardest parts of co-parenting after divorce are in the first few years after you separate. Once you have finalized a parenting plan, your family has a new normal. You have new holiday traditions, and maybe you even have a new partner in your life. The fact that your ex disrupted the feeling of stability you and your children had by divorcing you no longer stings. Most things work themselves out, and when they don’t, you can take comfort in the fact that your child will be an adult in X number of years and you will no longer have to deal with your flaky, cheapskate ex being late with child support and trying to change your holiday plans. One of the biggest co-parenting challenges comes at the end, though, and that is helping your child apply for financial aid when he or she applies to colleges. The family law attorneys at Iwanyshyn & Associates in Greater Pittsburgh can help you consider how your parenting plan will affect your child’s eligibility for financial aid.

FAFSA: A Fate Worse Than Death and Taxes

Anyone who has applied for need-based financial aid for college, that is to say, all except the wealthiest students, knows what a nightmare it is to deal with FAFSA. If the IRS investigated every detail of someone’s financial and family life when they filed taxes the way FAFSA does when they apply for federal financial aid, we would all be in debtor’s prison. To make matters more confusing, FAFSA has a very different interpretation of what it means to support a teenager financially than the family courts do. For example, FAFSA considers the student’s household to be the one where the child spends most of his or her time, whereas parenting plans aim to divide parenting responsibilities as evenly as possible. Likewise, having a stepparent has no bearing on the amount of child support a child or teenager receives, but it does affect a student’s financial aid eligibility.

Imagine that Mom and Dad have equal incomes, but Student spends 250 days per year with Mom and 115 with Dad, so Dad pays child support. Mom has remarried, and Stepdad’s income is twice Mom’s income. Therefore, Student’s financial aid eligibility decreases because the Student spends more than half his time in a household with Stepdad, even though Stepdad will not be paying any money toward Student’s tuition.

Iwanyshyn & Associates Helps Divorced Parents of Graduating Seniors

A family law attorney can help you think through the consequences of how your parenting plan will affect your children’s financial aid eligibility. Contact Iwanyshyn & Associates in Greater Pittsburgh & Western PA about your parenting plan. 🡺 412-419-3448