My Ex Refuses to Pay
WPC hears “my ex refuses to pay for our child’s education” all the time. The student is thrown into the middle of a bad divorce and one parent absolutely refuses to pay for college. What does the custodial parent do?
A custodial parent is the person the student resides most with for the year prior to filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). What can happen to the custodial parent is either the ex is not keeping her/his word on a pre-signed divorce agreement that includes the child’s college education funding or s/he outright refuses to fill out the student financial aid form.
Both situations are dire for the student because they will cripple her/his chances of receiving student college financial aid.
The custodial parent has a couple options. If there is an educational financial aid agreement that is legally binding and signed by both parties, the custodial parent can work through lawyers to get her/him to pay. If the ex still refuses to pay or fill out any financial aid forms or the two parties are in litigation about the issue then look for a certain question on all financial aid forms.
On certain forms, there is a question that asks the custodial parent: “Is there a legal agreement ensuring a financial contribution from the ex-spouse?” If the custodial parent is in any way unsure then answer no. This is imperative because if the custodial parent answers yes and the ex does not pay, it will destroy the student’s chances for a federal government student loan or college grant money.
On financial aid forms, the ex can also fill in the number amount of $0 when asked how much s/he is willing to pay for the child’s education. But in most cases of bad divorce, the ex will refuse to fill out or sign anything.
If the ex refuses to response to any request or refuses to cooperate, the custodial parent can obtain a waiver from the college. But this is hard to obtain because abuse, drug use, alcoholism, abandonment, etc. must be proven on the ex’s part. The custodial parent must provide full documentation of these claims to the financial aid officer, and if necessary, discuss the situation with the financial aid officer.
If possible, try to sit down and discuss filling out financial aid forms with an ex. Many times, colleges and the government will not ask about the ex’s contribution … but sometimes, depending on the college, they will. Prepare well in advance if your ex refuses to pay for the child’s education and strategize for the worst possible outcome. It will only help the student in the long run.