Many parents in California invest a lot of time, energy and resources to help their children achieve their dreams for the future. When parents want their children to have comfortable, rewarding lives, sending them off to college is often part of that larger goal.
Of course, college is a major investment that costs tens of thousands of dollars each year and leaves young adults in that in-between space where they are not quite independent adults and not quite fully dependent children. They often require financial support and guidance throughout their college years and even for a few years after graduation.
When parents divorce before their children finish their education, the change in family circumstances could have a negative impact on the children’s futures. This is a reality that divorcing parents need to be aware of so that they can address it in a proactive fashion.
Divorce can lead to a slump in academic performance
Sometimes, teenagers trying to adjust to changing family circumstances won’t handle the stress appropriately. They may start lashing out or stop making appropriate efforts in school.
Parental divorce has an association with both mental health struggles and a decline in academic performance for children and teenagers, at least in the short term. However, with proper support, most children will eventually recover from those short-term disruptions without any major damage to their future prospects.
Divorce can cause financial challenges
The process of getting divorced is very expensive and can diminish how much parents have to put into savings. The disruption to the family unit can also complicate the prior plans to simply have the parents contribute to college costs.
California will not order a parent to pay child support throughout college, which means that parents need to work to reach a mutual agreement if paying for college is still a priority. Parents can agree to split college costs a certain way.
Without such an agreement, the divorce could very well make it quite difficult for the family to cover college costs. Between the expense of the divorce and the requirement for the same income to pay the costs for two separate homes, the amount the parents can contribute will likely drop after a divorce.
Addressing major issues that aren’t governed by official child custody and child support orders can help parents who are planning to divorce minimize the negative impact that this transition may have on their children. Having effective custody arrangements in place is a great first step forward, but the legal side of co-parenting is not a panacea.