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What happens to a college fund that was court-ordered in a divorce decree if the child does not use it?

Oak Lawn, IL |

I am behind on a court-ordered college fund for my daughter. I wanted to know what will happen to the money if she does not use it? Will my ex-wife keep it?

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Attorney answers 3


The money was (is) to be set aside for the benefit of the child so, presumably, the money should go to the child.

I've not run into the situation where parents agree to set up a college fund without considering what will happen to the money in the event the child doesn't go to college.

I think the determining question is this: did you pay full freight on child support and the college fund was in addition to full child support? Or is this a case where you asked for a reduction in support so you could set aside money for college (and then didn't)?

If you're talking about the former situation -- you paid full child support and also set aside money for college -- it would seem to me that it was contemplated that you would set aside money for the benefit of the child and, even though it's not being used for college, the money should pour over into a trust for the benefit of the child.

If you're talking about the latter situation -- where your support obligation was reduced to ease the financial burden on you so that you could set aside money for college (that will not be used), then part of that money should be turned over to Mom to make up for the support money she otherwise would have received.

So, I need more info.

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I cannot answer that here because there are not enough facts. Why did the child not use it? What do the divirce papers say about the funds and any unused or overage anounts not used? Did you and ex contribute equal amounts? You need to take your papers in to a local divorce attorney for a consultation to determine the answer.

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you can always go back to court to determine who keeps unused college funds. However, and depending on the specifics of your particular college fund account, the money would normally belong to the child.

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