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Some college decisions have started to come out; others will begin arriving as Spring approaches.  And, with those decisions, also comes discussions and decisions about how to pay for tuition, room, board, books, fees, etc.  Virginia law regarding a parent’s obligation to pay for college educational expenses is generally that there is no authority to mandate a parent to pay for such expenses.  Child support ends when a child turns 18 and graduates from high school or when the child turns 19 (with some very limited exceptions).  So, what are divorced/separated parents to do?  Schools differ on how it treats income from separated/divorced parents and how it treats income if either parent has remarried  FAFSA forms may require the cooperation of parents to provide financial information.  In some cases, parents cooperate to get these matters addressed.  Other times, the emotions of the separation/divorce reappear; if there is a lack of trust between parents, it can be difficult to want to share information required by the financial entities.   So, if your child’s decision for college depends on financial ability to pay, what is he or she to do if his/her parents are not willing to provide necessary information?  Your child’s future is before you; it is a time to celebrate the achievements that have led to the opportunity to attend college.  Understanding the dynamics that underlie the financial issues of this exciting time, and realizing that a Court’s power to assist may not exist, takes forethought.  It may take the ability to put aside old feelings and cooperate.  It may require the help of attorneys, mediators, college planning counselors, financial planners.   Plan ahead and seek out assistance if needed.

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