College Expenses in Divorce Financial Mediation: A Crucial Consideration

Divorce is a complex and emotionally challenging process, often entailing a myriad of financial decisions. Amidst the division of assets and determination of spousal support, one crucial aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked is the consideration of college expenses in divorce.

silhouetted female figure against a blue, purple, pink and orange sunset, wearing graduation cap

As more couples embrace the concept of shared responsibilities in raising their children, understanding the financial implications of higher education is a pivotal component of the financial planning part of divorce mediation.

In this article, we will explore why college expenses should be a significant part of the discussion during divorce mediation, highlighting the benefits for both parents and, most importantly, the children.

The Changing Landscape of Higher Education

The cost of a college education in the United States has been steadily rising for decades. According to data from the College Board, the average cost of tuition, fees, room, and board for the 2020-2021 academic year exceeded $26,000 at public four-year in-state institutions and exceeded $52,000 at private nonprofit four-year institutions.

This upward trend is likely to continue, underscoring the importance of planning for college expenses during divorce proceedings.

Shared Responsibility for Education

In many modern families, parents share the responsibility of providing for their children’s education. Divorce shouldn’t alter this fundamental commitment.

Including college expenses in the financial mediation discussions ensures that both parents continue to contribute to their children’s future, even if they are no longer together as a couple. It demonstrates a commitment to the children’s well-being beyond the divorce, fostering a sense of stability and support during a challenging time.

Legal Obligations & Agreements

In some cases, legal obligations or previously established agreements may require parents to address college expenses during divorce. These obligations can include prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, or state laws that mandate financial contributions to a child’s higher education.

It is essential to consult with legal experts to fully understand your specific situation and obligations.

Reducing Future Conflict

Including college expenses in the divorce settlement can help prevent future conflicts and legal battles. Clearly defined agreements regarding how these costs will be shared can reduce misunderstandings and disagreements between ex-spouses down the road.

By addressing these matters during mediation, parents can work together to create a plan that suits both their financial situations and their children’s educational needs.

Financial Flexibility and Fairness

Every family’s financial situation is unique, and the cost of college can vary significantly from one institution to another.

Mediation provides an opportunity for parents to assess their financial capabilities realistically and determine a fair division of expenses. This approach allows for flexibility while ensuring that neither parent bears an unreasonable burden.


When facing the complexities of divorce, it is vital to prioritize the well-being and future prospects of the children involved. Including college expenses in financial mediation discussions is not only a responsible choice but also a compassionate one. It demonstrates a commitment to shared parental responsibility and reduces the potential for future disputes.

By addressing these concerns proactively, parents can lay the foundation for a more stable and secure future for their children, regardless of their marital status.

by: Jennifer Segura, J.D., CDFA®

Jennifer Segura with west coast family mediation center

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