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Can I Be Ordered to Pay for My Child’s College Expenses?

 Posted on October 15, 2020 in Divorce

college, Rolling Meadows divorce lawyerAs a parent who wants the best for your child, it may be important to you that he or she is able to pursue a quality college education. However, with average annual tuition costs approaching $10,000 for an in-state student at a public school and exceeding $35,000 for a private school, you may be concerned about your ability to cover the expenses, especially if you are ordered to do so as part of a divorce agreement. You should be aware of how Illinois law treats college expense obligations so that you can prepare financially if you expect to be affected.

When Can an Illinois Court Order Payment for College Expenses?

After any Illinois divorce, the court will require both parents to contribute to child support, which is meant to cover the regular expenses of caring for and raising a child until he or she reaches the age of 18. However, in some situations, the court can also require that one or both parents contribute financially to their child’s college education. These payments may continue up to the age of 23, or sometimes 25, as long as the child is still working toward a bachelor’s degree, is in good academic standing, and remains unmarried. The order may account for all of the following expenses:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Housing
  • Medical and dental expenses
  • Living expenses
  • Books and supplies

These costs can certainly add up, but there are provisions in place that can keep your payment obligations manageable. For example:

  • Unless there is good cause shown, the expenses ordered for tuition, fees, and housing will not exceed the cost of these items for an average, in-state student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This generally prevents you from being obligated to pay full private school tuition, for example.
  • The court will consider both parents’ financial resources and abilities in order to establish an arrangement that is equitable and that does not create excessive hardship for either parent.
  • The court will consider the child’s standard of living while you and the other parent were married, meaning that you will likely not be ordered to contribute more after your divorce than you would have planned to before.
  • The court will consider the child’s own financial resources that can be used to contribute to college expenses, including employment income, trust or inheritance benefits, grants, scholarships, and student loans, so you and the other parent may not be fully responsible for the costs.

Contact a Rolling Meadows Child Support Attorney

At the Cosley Law Office, we can help you understand your obligations regarding support for your minor children or adult children pursuing higher education, and work toward an arrangement that is fair to you while ensuring your children’s needs are met. Contact an Arlington Heights family law attorney at 847-253-3100 to schedule a free consultation.




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