College for Divorced Parents

Divorce is stressful enough, but what impact does it have on your child’s college education? Keep reading to find out.


In Oklahoma, divorce courts do not require you to prove fault to get a divorce. However, spouses may choose to file based on fault which can impact other matters like alimony or child custody. Grounds may include adultery, abuse, or abandonment and if a spouse chooses to file based on one or more of these grounds, the court must work through the case to determine how much alimony to award, child custody arrangements, and fair property division.

The result of a person’s divorce depends entirely on their individual circumstances. Because each divorce settlement is unique, it can be difficult to complete financial aid documents and prepare for college after divorce.

Financial Obligations

Oklahoma may require that one parent pay their child’s student loans if the divorce settlement dictates that college is a part of their child support obligation. In most cases, the judge will decide whether college expenses are a part of the settlement or not. For divorcing spouses with college age children, the court will use a number of factors to decide whether on or both parents are required to pay for college.

This decision is based on a number of factors including:

  • The financial resources of both parents
  • The financial resources of the child (i.e., financial aid, scholarships, etc.)
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the child prior to the divorce
  • The child’s academic performance

Determining financial responsibility can help parents to prepare for college and ensure that they complete all necessary paperwork correctly.

However, for parents who divorce years before their child goes to college or those who file while their child is at college, the process may be more complicated.

Understanding FAFSA

All college attendees are required to complete FAFSA. FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a free loan application that helps students get federal student aid like subsidized and unsubsidized loans, grants, and other financial aid. Unless the student or their parents are able to pay for college in full without loans, FAFSA is a crucial part of the process.

However, FAFSA for divorced or divorcing spouses can be complicated. In general, the custodial parent completes FAFSA and if they have remarried, their new spouse must be listed on the application as well. Non-custodial parents are generally not required to submit information for FAFSA, but they could still be obligated to provide financial support depending on their divorce settlement.

If the divorced – or divorcing – spouses still live in the same household, they must be listed together on the FAFSA documents, or their living arrangements need to change.

Keep reading for FAQs regarding divorce and college.

Divorced Parent and College FAQs

Q: Does Oklahoma consider college costs as child support?

A: No, the state does not give the court power to order a parent to support their child after age 18 or through the age of 20 if regularly enrolled in high school. However, parents can agree separately that child support will continue during college and submit their decision to the court where it will become enforceable.

Q: What happens if my child chooses a private college?

A: Because the state does not have the power to order parents to pay for college, parents are responsible for creating their own agreement and submitting it to the court to be enforced. Because of this, the decision to support a child’s private education is also up to the parents.

Q: Are their assistance programs for divorced parents paying for college?

A: The federal government offers tax credits for paying college tuition. This means that whichever parent pays for their child’s education will receive a credit toward their total yearly taxation payments. Some tax credits are more beneficial than others depending on the parent’s unique circumstances.

Planning for College After Divorce

If you and your spouse divorced years ago, are in the process of filing now, or considering filing in the near future, you must contact an attorney. If you have college-age children, divorce can become complicated or complicate the financial aid process if there are no rules to follow in the divorce settlement.

Nichols Dixon PLLC understands how complex divorce can be, so we offer a variety of legal services to help families navigate the future. Our team has the experience, reputation, and results you need to prepare for college before, after, and during divorce.

Contact our firm today for more information.