Are your parents separated or divorced? If this is the case, you will only provide your custodial parent’s financial information on the FAFSA.
Now you may be wondering, who is your custodial parent? If your parents are divorced or separated, your custodial parent is the parent who provides more that 50% of your support. This is often the parent with whom you have resided the most over the last 12 months. This is regardless of which parent claimed the student on their tax returns.
Let’s go over some examples:
John’s parents are divorced. His father claimed John on his 2018 tax return and he makes monthly child support payments to John’s mother. John lives with his mother and she provides more that 50% of his support. In this situation, regardless of who claimed John on their taxes and the child support payments, John’s custodial parent would be his mother, so only her financial information would be required on the FAFSA. The child support payments received would be included in his mother’s financial information on the FAFSA.
Jane’s parents are separated. She lives with her mother, but spends weekends with her father. Her parents filed their 2018 tax returns jointly. Her mother provides more than 50% of her support. In this situation, regardless of Jane spending weekends with her father, her mother is her custodial parent. She will only provide her mother’s financial information on the FAFSA. Because her parents filed their 2018 tax returns jointly, Jane will only report her mother’s share of the income and taxes paid on the joint return.
Please note: If a divorce or separation occurs after a student has filed the FAFSA, the student can complete an income adjustment appeal, which would rule out the non-custodial parent’s income from the FAFSA. Documentation the student would need to submit includes documentation of separate addresses, relevant legal or court documents and a signed and dated 1040 and W2’s for the custodial parent. For instructions on completing an income adjustment, visit stockton.edu/finaidappeals and click “Learn More” under Income Adjustment Appeal.
If you’re ever second guessing who is your custodial parent, remember, it’s the parent who provides more than 50% of your support. Feel free to contact us through email or schedule a phone call using our contact form if you have any questions.