Divorce When Kids Go to College

Posted by Josh Valentine | Mar 02, 2020

Many parents know that their relationship is essentially over but still stay together for the sake of their children. Divorce can be difficult for children, especially when they are younger. Many parents wait until their children go off to college to finally separate. However, it may not be much easier for kids to accept their parents' divorce after they turn 18 and are out of the house.

If you are considering separation when your children go away to school, talk to your North Carolina divorce attorneys about your options and how to protect your interests and make sure your children are provided for after a divorce.

Telling Your Children About a Divorce 

There may never be the perfect time to tell your children about a divorce. This may be one reason it is easier for parents to deal with a divorce after the children are out of the house. In North Carolina, this is also the time when parents begin the one-year separation requirement for divorce, where “the husband and wife have lived separate and apart for one year.” 

According to a study in the Journal of Divorce, the experience of college students whose parents divorce while they were in college found “many students responded that the divorce resulted in a closer relationship with their mother and a more strained relationship with their father.” 

A divorce during college also resulted in particular difficulty around the holidays. Additionally, some students had difficulty with their own intimate relationships after their parents' divorce.

Telling kids about a divorce may cause problems no matter the child's age, but there may be steps the parents can take to reduce the pain of a separation. This includes not telling the child about the separation shortly after they go away to school or during a holiday break. The winter or Christmas break after the child's first semester may seem like the first real chance to tell the child about the divorce plans but the short break may leave them unprepared to return to school for the beginning of their second semester with a clear head. 

Paying for College After a Divorce

Most college students become legal adults sometime around their first or second year at college. However, many still rely on their family's financial support to get them through school. Some states have a continued child support obligation for children over the age of 18 while attending higher education, but North Carolina does not. College can be expensive, even when attending an in-state, public institution, and financial aid. Parents should make plans for how they will contribute to their child's educational expenses during and after divorce. 

Mediation and Collaboration

Parents with children can benefit from a more amicable divorce. A collaborative divorce, agreeing on terms of separation, or mediation can help reduce the areas of dispute and make the divorce less expensive for the couple. Fewer disputes can also help the family interact on good terms during holidays and when children are visiting home from school. 

North Carolina Family Law Firm 

Unfortunately, agreeing on the terms of divorce is not always possible. When there are areas of dispute, including alimony and property division, make sure you have an advocate on your side to help protect your interests. At Caulder & Valentine Law Firm, PLLC, we have helped parents handle child custody and child support disputes in a North Carolina divorce. If you have any questions about divorce with kids in college, contact us today in Shelby for a consultation.

About the Author

Josh Valentine

You could say Josh has a God-given ability for sustaining long-term relationships. He and his wife first met in elementary school and went to Gardner Webb University (GWU) together, where they tied for number 1 in their class. Then, they both started law school on the same day of their graduation and got married during their first semester. He has also known his law partner Blake Caulder since Kindergarten. Theirs is the perfect partnership. “He’s the brake; I am the accelerator,” Josh says. Both Josh and his wife attended an innovative program at Charlotte Law School that allowed them to complete law school in two years instead of the typical three. His wife graduated and passed the North Carolina bar at age 20, becoming one of the youngest attorneys in the state. He readily admits she’s smarter than him. Of course, Josh went on to pass the North Carolina State Bar himself and later the South Carolina State Bar. While in school, he was Associate Editor of the Law Review and received accolades like Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society membership, Order of the Crown, Pro Bono Honors, CALI Awards (highest grade). In his career as a lawyer, he has been admitted to the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, is a member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, and completed training for DWI Detection & Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Josh has also been named to the Top 40 Under 40 for Criminal Defense by The National Trial Lawyers, the Business North Carolina 2019 Legal Elite for Criminal Defense, and the 10 Best Attorneys for Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys three years in a row (2016, 2017, and 2018). Community involvement has been important to Josh all his life. In high school, he participated in building a Holocaust museum that has become internationally regarded. He and his wife are actively engaged in animal rescue, which currently means seven cats and two kittens. He served in prison ministry and assisted with fundraiser banquets there, and he provides pro bono and reduced fee legal services to those in need. As if all of that weren’t enough, Josh also mentors high risk youth and helps with his church’s youth group. He participates in other community volunteer projects involving construction, remodeling, drywall, painting, and landscaping. He’s an active student of the Bible and has traveled to Israel, Brazil, and Europe for mission work. No one can say Josh isn’t a well-rounded individual. In his spare time, he likes to play softball, basketball, and tennis, and he can play the piano and trombone. Sometimes on weekends, believe it or not, he enjoys pouring and finishing concrete with friends who own a concrete and grading business. In his law practice, Josh has made it a point to develop positive relationships with officers, clerks, and district attorneys, which has proven invaluable in delivering positive results for his clients. It’s important to him to both listen to his clients and fight for them. Law enforcement officers have important responsibilities to keep our communities safe and uphold the law, but one of the responsibilities of attorneys is to make sure officers do their job correctly. Josh considers it his job to hold them accountable for their actions. Josh is a person of deep faith. He knows that the established order of our universe and strength of America’s Judeo-Christian influenced court system is built on God’s word. His passion to serve each client with innovation, excellence and integrity is a byproduct of his faith. When asked why he became a lawyer, Josh says, “All through my life, I have personally witnessed family members and very close friends endure divorce, child custody battles, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits, and even fraudulent criminal accusations. I both saw and experienced the stress such events can place on an individual, and I realized that everyone, at some point in their life, needs hope, comfort, and encouragement. In each one of those situations, the person who was best situated to provide that vital support was their lawyer. So that’s why I became an attorney. I understand what you are going through, and I’m here to help you. Our office is focused on meeting your needs and guiding you through what may be the most difficult time of your life.” Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Magna Cum Laude Class Rank – 21 of 328 Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review Certification and Concentration in Employment Law Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society Order of the Crown Pro Bono Honors CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process I and Contracts I Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar