Planning for your child’s future is an important and exciting step for a parent.

It is thrilling helping your child to grow and learn. Saving for their college education is part of what can help make sure that your child’s future is secure. College is expensive, especially if your child chooses to attend a private university or one out of state. You and your spouse have likely worked for years to save money in a college account for your child to help defray these expenses.

If you get a divorce (or a DIYvorce), all of your assets will be divided, including the college savings account. If your child is still a minor, it is important to figure out how to handle division of the college account.

As with many potentially tricky issues in a DIYvorce, it helps to see how the courts handle it.

The college account is a marital asset, just like any others acquired during the marriage. That means that it belongs to both spouses and can be equitably divided. How you divide it depends a lot on how the college fund is held. If the funds are held in a simple savings or checking account, it will be simple to divide the funds in half and each of you can take half. Note that even though the parents may have previously agreed that those funds were specifically to be used to help pay for their child’s college, the parents are not under any legal obligation to use the money for college after the divorce is over, unless the parties come to an agreement to the contrary and that agreement is incorporated into the final divorce decree.

Instead of using a simple savings account, many parents elect instead to invest in a 529 account to help pay for their child’s college. A 529 account has very special tax benefits, making it easier for parents to save for college. With a 529, one parent is likely named as the account holder. This does not mean that the account is that parent’s separate property. However, forcing the account to be dissolved and distributing the funds is likely not the financial best route. The court can order that the account be awarded just to one parent, and the spouses, of course, can also agree to such an arrangement. However, without specific language in the divorce decree, there is nothing stopping the parent awarded the account from later dissolving the account and using the money how he or she sees fit.

The bottom line is that if you both agree that the college fund should be used for the child’s college, be careful to include specific language that requires the funds be used for the child’s education.

If you are having difficulty sorting through dividing a college fund or other asset and debt division, contact your DIYvorce representative.

Deciding to get a divorce is hard.

And then it seems to just get harder. But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.

DIYvorce was created by Minnesota divorce attorneys who know that people need a path to their divorce that doesn’t require thousands of dollars and months of fighting. But they also need to know their divorce is done correctly, and that it resolves the couple’s disagreements.

DIYvorce is an easy-to-use path for for couples who are ending their marriage:

You work through a secure online interview to gather information.

You get helpful information about issues to consider as you work out how to legally part.

You have the opportunity to consult with legal professionals along the way. Your questions will be answered and you can be confident about your final divorce and the documents.