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Divorce impacts child's eligibility for college financial aid

Dissolving a marriage is never easy, both emotionally and financially. However, divorce can be even tougher for those try to figure it out while simultaneously figuring out how to send their teenager to college. Here is a look at what divorcing parents should know when preparing to send a child to college in Montana.

First, it is important to understand the difference between the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent specifically for college loan application purposes. The custodial parent refers to the parent who had the college-bound teen live with him or her the most over the course of the previous year. However, in a situation involving equal custody between two divorced parents, the parent who offered the greatest amount of financial support to the child over the course of the previous year is the custodial parent.

Understanding how custodial parents and noncustodial parents are defined for college loan purposes is critical because it impacts whether a teenage child will be eligible financial aid. When determining a child's eligibility, some universities consider just the custodial parent's income and assets, whereas other colleges consider both parties' financial situations. The latter situation can be unhelpful for a child given the fact that a greater amount of income and assets will increase the family's expected family contribution to the child's college costs.

Divorce can certainly be tricky to navigate, but if two parents can see eye to eye on how to deal with financial matters and child custody issues during divorce, this may make the process much more palatable. In this situation, they can address these matters through divorce mediation or informal negotiations, rather than going to trial, which tends to be more stressful. Either way, an attorney in Montana can help to ensure that a divorcing spouse's best interests and rights are protected during each step of the divorce proceeding.

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