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.