How Divorce Affects Your Child's FAFSA


If you're the parent of a teenager and considering filing for divorce in Pasadena, keep in mind that your divorce may have a significant impact on your child's eligibility for need-based forms of financial aid when he or she is ready to attend college.

When a student with divorced parents attends college, only the custodial parent's income is reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For the purpose of the FAFSA, the custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived for the majority of the twelve-month period preceding the application. This may or may not be the parent the child lived with during the majority of the previous calendar year.

If the parents have 50/50 custody, other criteria used include:

  • The parent who provided more financial support to the child during the past 12 months.
  • The parent who provided the most financial support to the child during the most recent calendar year for which either parent provided more support to the child.
  • The parent who provided more than half the child's support, if he or she will continue to do so.
  • The parent who has been given legal custody by the court.
  • The parent who claimed the child as a dependent on their previous year's tax return.

In the event that none of the above factors help make a decision, the parent with the greater income will typically be used as the custodial parent for FAFSA purposes. Child support and alimony received from the non-custodial parent is treated as income on the FAFSA.

If you have any doubt about which parent's income should be used to complete the FAFSA, it's best to speak to a guidance counselor at your child's high school or an admissions counselor at the college he or she wishes to attend for clarification of the rules.

How Can We Help?

Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at if you need assistance with child support, child custody, or visitation issues during your divorce. Our Pasadena family law attorneys are eager to help you and your children resolve these concerns as quickly as possible.