It’s a tough problem for many parents, but it’s especially for divorced fathers in New Jersey: paying all of their bills including child support, yet still being able to set aside a bit of money every month to pay for college when the kids are ready to head off to school.
With many fathers in New Jersey either out of work right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic or receiving a smaller income, it’s hard enough paying daily living expenses – let alone having enough extra to save for college.
A recent survey conducted by Allianz reports that half of all single dads place a higher priority on saving for their children’s education than for their own retirement. The same respondents said that saving for college and retirement is causing them stress.
As a family law attorney for men and fathers in New Jersey, I’ve heard similar sentiments expressed by fathers as we work through the terms of the divorce settlement. Saving for a child’s education can be difficult for a married couple; when there is a divorce looming, it can seem an impossible goal.
But there is a way to take care of your children’s post-secondary education without feeling as if you are Sisyphus trying to push an enormous boulder up the hill.
Leveraging What Single Fathers in New Jersey Can Save
If your income has been lost or reduced, don’t worry about saving for college for the next few months.
Once things return to a more normal situation, if you can start with just a few dollars each month, there are options for single dads to leverage what they can save.
- Most institutions and many organizations offer scholarships; some are based on need, while other are awarded for academic achievement in high school.
- The IRS allows parents, including single fathers in New Jersey, to create a 529 College Savings Plan.
- The American Opportunity Tax Credit is another gift from Washington D.C. that allows a single father to claim a $2,500 annual tax credit for each child attending an accredited college or university.
- FAFSA is a free, online form that lets a single father apply for financial assistance from both the federal and state governments, and most colleges and universities. The applications start being accepted October 1, so apply early; some programs are awarded on a first-come basis.
If you are the custodial parent, you’re likely eligible for single parent tax breaks. The Child Credit provides $2,000 for each child under age 17 and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit provides up to another $3,000 for one child and up to $6,000 for two or more kids. We can refer you to tax accountants who can help you take advantage of these benefits which may increase the amount you’re able to set aside for the youngster’s education.
Create and Stick to a Workable Strategy
Besides referring you to a qualified tax advisor, we can introduce you to financial planners who can help you create a plan.
For example, they may suggest ways to save money on everyday living expenses. Carry lunch to work rather than eating out every day. Look for ways to reduce your cable TV bill by unsubscribing to channels you don’t watch often. Explain how to talk to your banker about ways to cut the fees you are charged.
All of these seemingly little items can be turned into a lot of cash by the time your son or daughter has graduated from high school and is planning their university career.
When we work with a man or father in New Jersey who is going through a divorce, we help them find ways to address the many financial issues that are likely to arise. For instance, you are invited to participate in our Custody and Support Group for Fathers. You do not need to be a client to join the group.
If you are a father in New Jersey contemplating a divorce, feel free to contact one of our family law lawyers at either 973.562.0100 in Nutley or, in Montclair, at 862.245.4620. Thanks to our electronic infrastructure, the Micklin Law Group attorneys for men and fathers are in touch with each other and the courts. Schedule a meeting in our virtual conference room with Brad here.