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Your Child’s College Education After Divorce: Which Factors Determine Expense Responsibilities?

Posted on in Child Support

child college expenses in illinois, kane county child support lawyerThe subject of your child’s future college expenses and who will be responsible for them following the end of your marriage can be difficult to address, especially in the midst of an impending divorce. Whether you and your spouse discussed the funding of your child’s education early on in your marriage or did not discuss it at all, you may be wondering who will be responsible for paying tuition and other expenses once you are separated.

Who Pays for What?

While preparing for your child’s education may not be at the forefront of your mind during the divorce process, there are certain discussions you can have with your spouse and attorney to ensure your child’s education is secure when the time comes for them to attend college. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act works in favor of your children and their higher education. Revisions to Illinois state family law in 2016 enabled courts to order a parent to pay for the child’s college if the child is no longer living at home but attending school. Before either parent is ordered to contribute a certain amount to college expenses, however, there are multiple factors that the court takes into account:

The child’s potential contribution - College expense litigation has been heavily debated for some time now and will continue to evolve as educational options and family law change. Some argue that non-minor children should not go into debt paying for their own education, while others argue they have an obligation to lessen the burden for their parents. As of now, Illinois courts expect non-minor children to help pay for their college education, especially when the school of choice is an expensive one. Any grants or scholarship the child earns will be applied to the expenses first, and other assets, such as income or inheritances, are considered as viable financial resources for schooling expenses.

Financial resources of the parents - The court examines each parent’s income and their overall financial snapshot when determining any kind of order for financial contribution to a child’s college tuition. In the past, courts have assumed that if one parent has been paying regular child support, there is no reason they cannot also continue to contribute to college expenses. The ability to pay is determined at the time of the hearing, once all financial circumstances have been accounted for.

The nature of the child’s educational expenses - The court also looks at what the college expenses entail when deciding how much financial responsibility is appropriate. For example, tuition, fees, room and board, and books all qualify as basic educational expenses. Other costs, like transportation and some medical or health-related costs, may also be considered when validating college expenses and the amount the parent must contribute.

Delving into college costs for your non-minor child during the divorce process can feel overwhelming, especially when there is tension between you and your spouse and you are unable to reach an agreement. If you need help navigating this issue, talk with a competent Kane County college expense attorney who can provide you with the resources, information, and representation you need. Call the Goostree Law Group today at 630-584-4800 for a free consultation.


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