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FAFSA and Divorce

By Nottage and Ward on February 11, 2013

In order to receive financial aid for college, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form must be completed and submitted online. The form requests information about a young person’s financial support mechanism and amount. Child support from a non-custodial parent must be included on the form with the rest of the family’s financial information. Then a determination can be made as to the amount of financial aid colleges should make available.

The Chicago family law attorneys at Nottage and Ward have been helping spouses and former spouses with the financial complexities of divorce for more than 20 years. They help spouses resolve complex custody and financial issues.

Legal Custody vs. Custodial Parent for Financial Aid Purposes

Courtesy of, when a couple is divorced, the parent responsible for filling out the financial aid application form for the children is called the “custodial parent”. For FAFSA purposes, this term does not mean the same thing as the parent who retains “legal custody.” “Custodial parent” for student financial aid purposes means the parent the child lived with the most during the past 12 months (12 months ending on the FAFSA date of application). If the amount of time spent with each parent was equal during the past 12 months, or if the divorce was very recent, the custodial parent would be the parent who gave the child the most financial support.

The College Financial Aid Director Makes the Final Decision

If the custodial parent is unable to be determined or the decision is extremely close, the college financial aid director would make the final determination—usually based on the parent who has the larger income. This is usually the same parent who claimed the child on his or her tax return.

The Illinois family law attorneys at Nottage and Ward are devoted solely to the practice of family law and nothing else. They can provide rational answers to questions surrounding divorce and child custody. Please call (312) 332-2915 for a consultation.

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