College Costs after Divorce
Being hit with the realization that you may be responsible for college expenses for your child on your own following your divorce can be an unsettling experience, especially when there are already so many other financial issues that must be addressed at the end of the marriage. Often, who will pay for your child’s college tuition is the very last thing on your mind in the midst of a separation. Thankfully, there are a number of ways you can properly prepare to fund your child’s college education after you are divorced, beginning with tackling the subject in your divorce decree.
Law Changes that Affect College Financial Responsibility after Divorce
Since 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) has evolved to clarify which costs actually qualify as expenses in the state of Illinois, and how those expenses should be handled between divorce parties in a court of law. For example, the newer version of the law includes the cost of up to five college applications in its educational expense standards, and puts a stop to any contributions made to college expenses when the student turns twenty-three years old, with certain exceptions, which must be deemed “good cause”. This means if you are required to contribute to college costs for your non-minor child, the expenses will be justified and limited.
What You Can Do
To ensure your child’s college costs are taken care of once your divorce is finalized, the work ideally begins before you begin the divorce process. This means addressing the issue early on in the decree with a clear, written agreement that takes a number of factors into account, including who will pay for what and at what time, as well as who will pay for the pre-college expenses that are incurred. These things can include standardized test courses and any relevant purchases, like books or other class supplies. Sit down with your soon-to-be ex-spouse and make a list of everything you expect, along with any concerns you have about the arrangement.
Another way to make the arrangement smoother for everyone involved is to require full cooperation between both parties when it comes to financial aid forms by specifying this in the divorce decree. This will require both parents to provide their financial information in a timely manner to ensure the student will meet all necessary FAFSA deadlines and begin college without any delays.
Additionally, specify in the decree any agreed-upon caps regarding expenses. Placing well-defined limits on college costs in the decree can help lighten the financial burden for both parties, and may even reduce potential conflict that can arise from disagreements about who should pay for what. There is a lot of ground to cover if you want to make sure college costs for your non-minor child remain a priority after your divorce, but working alongside a competent Kane County divorce lawyer can equip you with the resources and guidance you need to get the job done. Call Shaw Family Law, P.C today at 630-584-5550 for a personal consultation.